A niche magazine targeted to real estate strategy and economic development recently named Alexandria one of the fastest growing micropolitans in the nation.
Site Selection magazine ranked Alexandria sixth in the nation in the number of business development projects.
Nationwide, Alexandria is one of 576 micropolitans, a non-urban community anchored by a town of no more than 50,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Jason Murray, executive director of Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission (AAEDC), said, “It’s nice because it separates the community from St. Cloud, Minneapolis… it really helped the smaller communities and rural regional centers, much like Alexandria, be able to compete, and it’s also a really nice marketing designation for us.”
Alexandria is the top micropolitan in Minnesota.
“This is the second or third time that we’ve been the top micropolitan in Minnesota and I think it’s driven mainly by our industrial development,” Murray said.
One of the nine projects that pushed Alexandria to its top ranking was 3M’s 22,000 square foot, $2.2 million expansion last year.
In 2013, the AAEDC assisted with projects totaling $9.6 million.
WHY DOES RANKING MATTER?
What does this ranking have to do with the average resident out there? Why does it matter to the community?
Murray explained, “I think this is a nice designation mainly from the standpoint that we’ve had a lot of reinvestment; companies are choosing to make an investment here and I think that’s a good sign.”
Here’s the direct result of that reinvestment: The Alexandria area has more than 17,000 jobs.
“We’ve got more jobs than we’ve got people and we need the regional laborshed. Obviously the stronger footprint for the Alexandria region is based off of that number,” he said.
Murray said although Alexandria doesn’t come near the 27 projects listed for the top-ranked micropolitan, Wooster, Ohio, there’s significant investment in the local community.
“If you look back on the broader picture, you have this cycle – manufacturing makes an investment and all of a sudden you’ve got retail and services within a time period of 24 to 36 months after that. It’s a cycle,” Murray explained.
“There are a lot of positives happening for this community.”