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Space Coast lands 10th in ‘best-performing cities’ list, buoyed by job growth, tech industry

ULA launched a $1.5 billion NASA mission from Cape Canaveral that aims to send a science probe closer to the sun than any spacecraft before. The Parker Solar Probe — NASA’s first mission named for a living person — rumbled from the Space Coast at 3:31 a.m. Sunday atop one of the most powerful American rockets, United Launch Alliance’s 233-foot Delta IV Heavy.
ULA launched a $1.5 billion NASA mission from Cape Canaveral that aims to send a science probe closer to the sun than any spacecraft before. The Parker Solar Probe — NASA’s first mission named for a living person — rumbled from the Space Coast at 3:31 a.m. Sunday atop one of the most powerful American rockets, United Launch Alliance’s 233-foot Delta IV Heavy. (Photo courtesy: Derek Demeter)

The Space Coast area has made a list of the 10 best-performing cities in the U.S., News 6 partner Florida Today reports.

The Milken Institute, a nonpartisan economic think tank, uses an index to grade communities on measures that include job growth, wage growth and growth of high-tech industries within metropolitan areas. The Space Coast shares 2020's top 10 list for big cities with major metros like San Francisco, Seattle and Austin, Texas.

The Space Coast jumped 47 spots from its 2018 ranking. This year, it ranked fifth for job growth over the past 12 months.

In the report, the Milken Institute writes that the Space Coast’s performance stems from its growing high-tech industries in the aerospace and defense sectors, along with its attractive weather and the location of Port Canaveral. However, the Space Coast is vulnerable because some of its largest industries — defense, tourism and health care — are vulnerable to recessions, according to the report.

Diversifying the economy and deepening the local talent pool would make the area less prone to recessions, the report states.

Lynda Weatherman, president and chief executive officer of Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast, said in a news release that the Space Coast’s appearance on the list shows how far the area has come since the end of the shuttle program and the 2008 recession.

“Judging by the company we keep, including communities with much-larger populations, Brevard County is now considered one of the elite metropolitan economies in the nation," Weatherman said.

Milken’s 2020 top 10 best performing large metro areas:

  1. San Francisco area
  2. Provo-Orem area, Utah
  3. Austin, Texas
  4. Reno, Nevada
  5. Tie between Orlando & San Jose, California
  6. Boise City, Idaho
  7. Seattle
  8. Dallas
  9. Palm Bay/Melbourne/Titusville area