In yet another national nod to Charleston, the non-partisan Milken Institute study “Best-Performing Cities 2011” named the Charleston tri-county area one of the country’s economically healthiest metropolitan areas. The 11th-place ranking represents a significant improvement over Charleston’s ranking in 2010 (19th) and in 2009 (30th).

According to the report, Charleston climbed to just outside the top 10 on the strength of its “vibrant aerospace sector,” “stable military presence” and other high-tech, high-skill employers. Kevin Klowden, director of the Milken Institute’s California Center and one of the study’s three authors, called the Charleston area “an overall solid performer” not dominated by any particular sector, “a good thing in terms of the long-term sustainability of its performance.” Looking ahead, Klowden noted that although Charleston is advantageously positioned, the forecast is still “a mix.” On the one hand, Charleston’s port “creates a significant opportunity” in light of the Panama Canal widening, but on the other hand the slow growth of the global economy “creates a cap in terms of how far it would go.” Read more in the December 15Post and Courier article.

About the 2011 Study

Leaders in this year’s index, which ranks U.S. metros based on their ability to create and sustain jobs, are cities that most benefited from renewed investment in business equipment; have diversified technology bases, which also drive growth in business and professional services; are exposed to America’s booming energy sector; and are home to a large military presence. Read more about the report here.

The 2011 top 11 performers (with 2010 rankings) of the 200 largest metros:

1. San Antonio, TX (14)

2. El Paso, TX (9)

3. Fort Collins-Loveland, CO (50)

4. Austin-Round Rock, TX (2)

5. Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, TX (1)

6. Salt Lake City, UT (49)

7. Anchorage, AK (8)

8. Huntsville, AL (3)

9. Provo-Orem, UT (25)

10. Kennewick-Richland-Pasco, WA (5)

11. Charleston, SC (19)

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