Pierce County leads state in economic growth

Pierce County – defying today’s tough economic conditions – is outperforming other regions not only in Western Washington, but also in the state.

That’s the word from the Milken Institute in its latest Best Performing Cities Index, a measure of where jobs are being created, economies are growing and businesses are thriving.

The non-profit think think tank places the Tacoma metropolitan area – which covers all of Pierce County – at number 58 out of 296 in the nation.

That position not only is higher than that of any other major region in the state, but also is a strong improvement on last year’s 102 ranking.

Lining up behind Tacoma in the 2003 ranking are Olympia (63 – 78 last year), Seattle-Bellevue-Everett (138-92), Portland, Ore./Vancouver, Wash. (141-55) and Bremerton (153-137). Spokane (157-98) occupies the second-to-last spot in the state, followed by Yakima (177-145).

The institute’s researchers say they found this year’s leaders were growing cities with diverse, stable economies. They all earned high marks with traditional businesses, such as retail, a growing population and reliable growth industries, including government and health care.