Financial advising and credit monitoring company SmartAsset recently named Longmont its No. 1 “boomtown” after conducting a study of 500 largest communities across the country.
According to A.J. Smith, the company’s vice president of financial education, seven different metrics — population change, unemployment rate, GDP growth rate, change in the unemployment rate from 2018 to 2019, growth in the number of businesses from 2012 to 2016, change in the number of housing units from 2014 to 2018 and change in the median household income from 2014 to 2018 — were used to determine Longmont as America’s fastest growing town.
Also included in the top 10 boomtowns were Greeley and Denver, coming in at numbers five and seven respectively. The study noted that Colorado, Texas and South Carolina took up all but one spot — nabbed by Miami — among the 10 fastest growing communities, adding the states “stand out for their low unemployment rate and high five-year housing-growth rate.”
“We hope this gets people thinking about what’s important to them when it comes to … the economic climate of the city they’re living in or potentially moving to or thinking about starting a business in, or any of those factors,” said Smith.
According to her, the categories Longmont excelled the most in included annual GDP growth rate, which is 5.53% for the city, putting it in ninth place nationwide. The increase in the number of housing units from 2014 to 2018 was also a strong area for Longmont, as it placed 24th with 17.61% growth.
Its unemployment rate was also at 2.6% — the 27th lowest in the nation for the month of July and more than a percent lower than the national rate.
Longmont ranked in the top 25% for every metric for the study, as well, and took first place by having strong numbers across a variety of economic indicators, Smith said.
SmartAsset also points to boomtowns as a desirable place to own a home, and Jesse Turner, a realtor with Turner Realty, a nearly 60-year-old family-run real estate agency in Longmont, said strong residential home sales have long been something Longmont could boast.
“I mean, even in 2008, when a lot of the country was kind of suffering — and we definitely took a hit — but we didn’t get hit as hard as other places have,” he said.
Turner added that, outside of nationwide economic shifts, Longmont’s housing market has remained solid for decades, making it a prime location to invest in a home.
Melanie Bimson with Denver-based Land Title Guarantee Company, who works out of Longmont, said she’s seen an influx of new businesses, in addition to some companies relocate their operations to the area.
“We’ve seen a lot of buying and selling going on,” she said. “I love our town — and I really am excited that other people are discovering it, too.”
Scott Cook, the Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce’s CEO, attributes at least part of Longmont’s success to what he said is leadership and organizations “working closely together.”
He added Advance Longmont, a program put into place five years ago in order to attract new businesses and create growth led by the Longmont Economic Development Partnership, can also be thanked for the city’s success.
“So we have the… Longmont Downtown Development Authority, Small Business Development Center and a long list of organizations that are all working together,” said Cook. “So what that means is then… each organization is doing their part and they’re very focused on what they should be doing in the community.
“…I think that is actually paying off now, and we’ve been working on that program for several years.”
Kimberlee McKee, the Longmont Downtown Development Authority’s executive director, concurred.
“I think as these groups work together, that people that were interested could get funneled to the right place and could get the answers that they needed,” she said. “So I think having that concerted effort as far as how we could bring businesses in and how we could treat those businesses and forge partnerships, really helped people navigate the climate here and made it easier for them to invest in our community.”
Now that the five-year plan is wrapping up, the city is looking to draft an “Advance Longmont 2.0” program in order to keep the growth rolling. Jessica Erickson, the Longmont Economic Development Partnership’s CEO, told the Times-Call last month that she views the new program as the “next evolution of economic development for Longmont.”
There are, however, some downsides that come with rapid or sustained growth. Some of these growing pains, including probably the most distinct — a lack of affordable housing — are hotly and frequently debated across the Front Range.
Cook said some of the issues the Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce is working on currently, in addition to affordable housing, are transportation and easing a tight labor market.
“Those challenges are results of our success, but I think the next piece is tackling some of those issues, too, so that we can… keep that success going,” he said.
To view SmartAsset’s study in full, visit tinyurl.com/uj393yl.
This article originally appeared at the Daily Camera. Read the full article here.