Business Report

Area Development, a site selection and facility planning magazine, ranks Baton Rouge No. 31 in the country in its annual ranking of 394 metro areas based on workforce development, economic strength, five-year growth and other factors.

The trade publication also named Baton Rouge the best metro area in the southern region. Baton Rouge steadily has risen in the rankings the last three years, moving from No. 88 in 2013, to No. 65 in 2014, to No. 62 in 2015.

Baton Rouge Area Chamber President and CEO Adam Knapp says the ranking is great recognition for all the work done to strengthen the Baton Rouge economy over the past several years.

“To get good reputational rankings in their material is always a plus for a region who are getting their message out nationally and internationally,” Knapp says.

He points to the high manufacturing employment numbers and growth over the past five years as one of the factors that led to Baton Rouge’s high ranking. That sector has grown in the past few years as the price of natural gas has dropped.

“We’ve seen that translating into a really strong economy for the Baton Rouge area,” Knapp says.

Baton Rouge’s overall ranking is the highest in the state—Lake Charles comes in second at No. 100—and higher than regional peer metro areas such as Charlotte, North Carolina, at No. 77; Little Rock, Arkansas, at No. 274; and Birmingham, Alabama, at No. 254.

“These leading locations are MSAs that have exhibited economic strength, including year-over-year growth and longer-term (post-recessionary) growth, as well as the capacity to support business prosperity because of their prime workforces and other factors,” says Geraldine Gambale, editor of Area Development, in a statement.

Among the major categories, Baton Rouge ranked No. 72 in prime workforce indicators, which measures the amount of educated 18- to 44-year-olds in the workforce and the share that have earned bachelor’s degrees; No. 47 in economic strength; and No. 49 in five-year growth.

The magazine’s editors noted continued growth is a key factor in the overall rankings.

Louisiana’s other metro areas all ranked near the bottom of the list: New Orleans at No. 356, Alexandria at No. 364, Monroe at No. 366, Shreveport-Bossier City at No. 373, Hammond at No. 387, Lafayette at No. 388 and Houma-Thibodaux at No. 389.

San Francisco topped the national rankings, followed by Napa, California; and Grand Rapid-Wyoming, Michigan.