A Midwestern economist says economic recovery’s doing best in the medium-sized towns of the Middle West. Federal Reserve spokesman Jason Henderson says cities between ten and fifty-thousand in size are where the hiring’s going on.
Henderson says “solid to strong” job growth is happening in the mid-sized cities or larger rural communities of Iowa, Nebraska, and other parts of rural America. He’s been traveling through some of those mid-sized cities and talking with business people to find out why they’re a center for job growth.
They’re starting to offer a wide range of jobs, Henderson says. Such towns are regional centers so they have service activity and professional business services like lawyers, accounts and doctor jobs. They also have a strong manufacturing base, with factory jobs in fairly rural places. He says some are in high-skilled industry, some being developed in more low-tech industries. Those towns are in areas that have been given a new name by city and regional planners: micro-politan.
“Micropolitan actually means small city,” he explains. It’s a term for counties that contain a town of more than ten-thousand, but fewer than fifty-thousand people. He says it’s the rural communities that have a relatively large population center in them, which serves as a regional economic hub. Traveling mid-sized cities in the Midwest, Henderson says he’s discovered a secret to the success of some local businesses.
They were being successful because they found a niche where a smaller business could locate in the mid-size city and penetrate the market. It provides them opportunities, but is still small enough that big national companies don’t find them direct competitors. Henderson, a graduate of Central College in Pella, is a native of Arlington, where he grew up on a small Fayette County dairy farm. Today he’s a regional economist for the Federal Reserve’s Kansas City Region.