Wilmington leaped 14 spots into the top ten of “best-performing cities” for 2023, according to the annual economic report compiled by the Milken Institute.
The organization ranked the Wilmington area seventh in its list of Tier 1 large U.S. cities, citing economic strengths such as “robust wage and job growth numbers” due to a “major shift from a primarily tourism-driven economy to one that’s more diverse, with an emphasis on professional services and education.”
Primarily, using data from 2021, a year in which many cities were beginning to bounce back from COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, this ranking represents a thirty-spot jump from the 2021 report, when Wilmington was ranked 37.
“The Port City has seen substantial growth in several industries over the last decade. Between 2011 and 2021, the education and health services sector grew 85.2 percent in real GDP, while the professional and business services sector increased by 73.5 percent. Alongside that increase, the tourism industry also saw a 45.4 percent growth with a 23.9 percent increase in jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector,” according to the report.
As for Wilmington’s competitive advantages and attracting large companies to the area, the authors credit local leadership, UNC-Wilmington, the growing local talent pool, and improving the Port of Wilmington.
In good company on the national stage, the Wilmington area shares a spot in the top ten with Provo, UT; Austin, TX; Raleigh, NC; Nashville, TN; Boise, ID; and Dallas, TX. Common themes in each city are a growing high-tech sector, a rebounding leisure and hospitality sector, and a higher level of access to broadband Internet. The report also notes that housing is a concern amongst all the top-ranked cities, and areas of focus for these growing cities include adding more affordable options, which reflects a continued high priority of Wilmington’s City Council.
Want to know more? Check out the full report HERE.