E’town MSA finishes 11th in GDP growth

The following article by Marty Finley first appeared in The News-Enterprise on February 24, 2012.  The full, online version can be seen here: www.thenewsenterprise.com/content/etown-msa-finishes-11th-gdp-growth

The Elizabethtown MSA is no longer the alpha dog when it comes to real gross domestic product growth.

Of 366 MSAs nationally, the Elizabethtown MSA finished 11th nationally in real gross domestic product growth in 2011, recording a 6.1 percent increase from 2010, according to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis late last week. Odessa, Texas, finished first with a growth rate of 15.16 percent followed by nearby Midland, Texas, at 9.50 percent.

The Elizabethtown MSA rate ranks first among the eight other Kentucky MSAs, and local officials said it reflects consistent growth in GDP. Hardin County United in a news release noted the figures reflect a roughly 30 percent jump in overall GDP growth since 2008. Luke Schmidt, a consultant with HCU, said the MSA also is outperforming peer military markets in GDP growth, such as Hinesville-Fort Stewart, Ga., and Manhattan-Fort Riley, Kan.

“The area is doing well,” Schmidt said.

Real GDP measures an area’s gross product based on the national prices for goods and services produced in an MSA, according to the BEA. The rate is adjusted for inflation.

In real money, the MSA ranked 259th nationally in GDP at $5.6 billion, according to the report.

HCU in its release argued the rankings help attract companies wanting to expand into progressive and flourishing communities, opening up more job opportunities.

“And it’s sustained growth,” Schmidt said. “It’s not a flash in the pan.”

Elizabethtown was ranked first in GDP growth in 2010 with a 14.4 percent growth rate, but revised rankings for 2010 on the bureau’s website listed a growth rate of 16.62 percent during that year, dropping Elizabethtown to fifth.

Schmidt reviewed the documents but said the changes for 2010 were made quietly. The BEA, he said, has not issued follow-up statements explaining the reasons behind the revision.

Hardin Judge-Executive Harry Berry said the MSA has consistently finished strong in GDP growth and the 11th place ranking for 2011 reflects well on the area’s ability to maintain its success.

Berry said the rankings are impressive considering the Elizabethtown MSA is significantly smaller than the major metropolitan areas touting much larger GDP totals, referencing the Dallas and San Francisco MSAs.

Real GDP increased in 242 of the 366 MSAs during 2011 — growth sparked by professional and business services, durable-goods manufacturing and trade, according to the report.

Berry said Hardin County has benefited from expansions in manufacturing and industry with companies restoring their workforces to pre-recession levels.

“People like to be with a winner,” he said.

The Elizabethtown MSA also finished in the top five in personal and per-capita income growth in 2011.

“With continuing high rankings in personal income growth, per-capita income growth and GDP growth, our region will continue to receive ‘looks’ from companies that are interested in expanding to a dynamic and growing market,” Berry said.

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