The South’s leading economic development magazine has named Augusta its “Mid-Market of the Year” to recognize the area’s strong uptick in attracting businesses and jobs.
The new issue of Southern Business & Development, out today, cites the Augusta area’s “banner year” with expanded and new manufacturing, service projects and military-related projects.
“It shows our project managers we work with and all the site-selection consultants we’re in touch with that, A, we have a good track record with economic development, and B, we’re continuing to do that,” said Walter Sprouse, executive director of the Augusta Economic Development Authority.
“Mid-market” is defined as an area with a population between 250,000 and 749,999 people. While Augusta’s Metropolitan Statistical Area stretches into South Carolina, the magazine prefers geographical divisions by state in calculating its SB&D 100 list, Sprouse said. The magazine measured Augusta by totaling the populations of Richmond, Columbia, Burke and McDuffie counties.
Sprouse considers the rankings especially meaningful because they offer close comparisons specifically with Southern cities competing with Augusta for attracting business and industry.
The magazine particularly cited the local expansion and economic impact of information technology giant Unisys Corp.; human resources management provider ADP; and Textron Specialized Vehicles.
Other recent major deals for Augusta include plant expansions by coffee producer Starbucks and concrete-additive maker EdenCrete Industries.
But it was cyber – notably Fort Gordon’s projected growth in that field, and the emerging Augusta Cyber Works at the former Sibley Mill – that nudged Augusta to the top of the rankings in its category.
“This is just the foretaste of cyber,” Sprouse said. “(Augusta University President) Brooks Keel, I think very appropriately, called it a ‘tsunami,’ the cybersecurity industry. And the publisher of this magazine mentioned that.”
“It should be noted that there is a new industry sector listed this year that shows the performance of each sector over the last six years,” SB&D Publisher Michael Randle wrote. “Cybersecurity has never been listed as a sector in any SB&D list, simply because there were not enough cyber deals to post. Yet, with eight big deals this year, cybersecurity made it onto the list for the first time. As that industry matures, look for plenty of projects coming out of Northern Virginia and Augusta, where the new Army Cyber Command is being built at Fort Gordon.”
Rounding out the top five in the magazine rankings’ mid-market category were Brevard County, Fla.; Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.; Montgomery, Ala.; and Spartanburg S.C.
In 2015, the magazine cited Augusta twice – as one of the South’s 10 “Sizzling Mid-Market Economies,” and as one of the 10 best places in the South to hire veterans.
Reach Joe Hotchkiss at (706) 823-3543 or email@example.com.