There are certain cities that are synonymous with major job markets. For example, the tech industry is booming in San Francisco, Chicago has been dubbed the “Silicon Valley” of food and beverage, and the political pulse of the nation can best be felt in Washington D.C. However, these aren’t the only cities that are job magnets for specific industries. According to a recent LinkedIn article titled “The Job Magnets No One Expected,” there are 12 cities around the U.S. poised to become hubs for their respective industries over the next year.
These small to mid-size cities may not have the inherent pull of Los Angeles or New York City but are choosing instead to bet on a single, homegrown industry to become job magnets in their own right. Take, for example, Hunstville, Ala. Modern Technology Solutions Inc. is currently seeking to fill 42 positions, ranging from systems engineers to software developers, in the city. For nearly 60 years, since the early days of NASA, the town has had ties to aerospace and defense engineering, and by choosing to zero in on that connection, they’ve created a wealth of new job opportunities and a booming local economy.
While focusing an entire economy around a single industry can be a risky move, it’s one that is paying off in certain places. Analysis by LinkedIn’s Economic Graph team found 12 cities that are thriving thanks to an unusually high concentration of jobs in a single industry, like health care, manufacturing, retail, and finance. In each of these cities, annual hiring rates have risen by 6.5 percent or more over the last year — well above the national average of 2.7 percent. Some of these cities include Kalamazoo, Mich., Raleigh-Durham, N.C., Boston, Cincinnati, Allentown, Pa., and Erie, Pa.
These smaller cities (all with populations of 250,000 or below) tend to be overlooked in the larger conversation about the nation’s economic growth and strength. But as they attract talent from larger areas, like D.C. and New York City, these magnet industries spur growth in other fields as well. In “The New Geography of Jobs,” Enrico Moretti discusses ways that large cities can become magnets for artists, creative workers, and high-earners, as they all benefit from being near each other. The Cal Berkley professor says the same dynamic can also exist in cities of just 100,000 people, as this synchronization of industries allows underlying employment and spending patterns to remain strong so that specialized industries can thrive.
And thrive, they are. The FBI recently announced a $1 billion build-out in Huntsville that will employ more than 4,000 people. Meanwhile, Facebook and Amazon have both announced plans for data centers and aerospace ventures in the city to be completed in the coming years. The Huntsville case study reveals that there is certainly something to be said for a single-minded focus on an industry, no matter how niche. Head over to LinkedIn to join the conversation, and weigh in on whether or not your city should follow the Hunstville model.