MEDFORD, Ore. — Medford is one of America's "best-performing" small cities, according to annual rankings compiled by independent economic think tank the Milken Institute. The index ranks U.S. cities by job rates, wages and salaries, and technology growth.
"In most years, these give a good indication of the underlying structural performance of regional economics," the Milken Institute says.
Medford came in at number 7 for the 2018 index, putting it squarely within the top ten. Other parts of Oregon also performed well, with the Bend-Redmond area claiming the number 1 slot. Albany ranked at number 9, and Grants Pass was ranked number 23.
"We've grown pretty significantly year-over-year for the past five or six years," said Scott Anderson, senior vice president of Core Business Services in Medford, a company that provides managed IT and web design. "We're in the technology space . . . so obviously, because everything is interconnected today, technology is growing, and security in particular has been a big growth space for us."
The Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development, Inc. (SOREDI) said that the Milken Institute's index was published earlier this year based on data gathered in 2018, and they are looking forward to the next installment to see how things may have progressed.
"This is a long-standing ranking that we pay attention to every year," said Colleen Padilla, executive director at SOREDI. "It's a cumulative effort of many agencies including SOREDI and partners in our region."
The travel industry is one driving force behind the Southern Oregon economy, according to Eli Matthews, the senior vice president of Travel Medford.
"Medford is experiencing great momentum right now," said Matthews. "The collaboration and excitement in our industry is strong, and continuing to execute our goals will create even more future successes."
Matthews cited a joint effort between Travel Medford and the City to create a cohesive brand. Meanwhile, Travel Medford said, the Medford Airport has seen eight percent higher passenger counts and expects to see more than 1.1 million passengers this year.
"This is an exciting time for Medford, as our region sees continued growth," said Matthews.
"Our overall goal in the region is to be the most business-friendly on the West Coast," said Padilla. "We're still in a state that has a great transportation corridor, we're one of the lowest for worker's compensation rates in the nation, we're very entrepreneurial and innovative."