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Here's Where Businesses Want to Be in 2016

The economic recovery continues apace, and growth in some sectors has been very strong this year. Influenced by a wide range of factors, including everything from oil prices to interest rates to tech developments, economic growth and job creation help attract new businesses to metro areas.

The experts are weighing in on which U.S. cities will likely be most attractive to business in the coming year. They look at measures like job growth, construction, and major industries, as well as favorable tax laws and other incentives that can create a business-friendly climate. Here’s a look at the cities that are expected to show the strongest growth in 2016.

Naples

Several commentators list this South Florida city at the top for job growth in 2016.

Moody’s Analytics predicts annual gains of 4.6% here through 2017. Several Florida cities are strong prospects for growth in the coming year, and one factor in that is the heavy concentration of retired people in those areas.

A retired population supports construction, retail, and healthcare industries without putting added strain on wages or the justice and education systems. This fuels jobs in those critical sectors. Other Florida metros with a heavy retirement presence that rank among the areas with the best job forecasts include: Cape Coral (4.4%), Ocala (3.9%), Port St. Lucie (3.7%) and North Port (3.6%).

Cape Coral

Cape Coral, on Florida’s west coast, has seen rapid population growth over the past few years. The population grew nearly 3% in both 2014 and 2015, and is now around 680,000. People have been attracted by a surge in jobs in business services, manufacturing, healthcare, and construction.

Orlando

Orlando’s economy obviously hinges on tourism. More than 60 million people visit the city each year, making it the most visited city in American history. The city’s economy is thriving.  With one of the states’ youngest populations, Orlando is predicted to create jobs at a rate of 4.2% annually for the next couple of years.

Myrtle Beach

With projected annual job growth also exceeding 4%, Myrtle Beach also caters to tourism, and to all the industries that support it. Located along the South Carolina coast, the city has a cost of doing business that is well below the national average. The aerospace industry is establishing a foothold here, and the community offers a range of business-friendly tax incentives to industry.

Nashville

Another city with strong growth potential, Nashville’s central location helps make it attractive to business. The cost of doing business here is nearly 10% below the national average, and the city has become a major hub for healthcare. This industry contributes nearly $30 billion and more than 200,000 jobs to the local economy annually. Healthcare businesses spawn growth in professional service sectors, like accounting, legal, and architecture as well.  The area also has a skilled workforce, with around 100,000 college students.

Austin

This Texas college town continues to lead in many measures of growth, thanks to a young, tech-oriented, and educated population. It’s one of the fastest-growing cities in the country and job growth is expected to continue to be very strong for 2016. Electronics production will continue to figure prominently in the city’s international trade participation, which makes up more than 20% of the area’s trade.

Provo

The rate of job growth in this Utah city is among the highest in the country –more than 4 times the national average— and will likely continue to be very strong in 2016. Provo is becoming known as an innovation-friendly spot for the tech sector, and is seeing a lot of start-up activity. The area offers a range of incentives to attract businesses, including credits of up to 30%.

McAllen

While some Texas cities will likely see a slowdown this year, thanks to shake-ups in the energy market, McAllen will continue its strong growth in areas like construction, manufacturing, transportation, and business services. A very low cost of living and doing business makes the area attractive to companies in a variety of sectors.

San Jose

San Jose has a projected annual job growth rate of 3.8%. One unique thing about the situation here is that, thanks to the dominant tech industry, the jobs that are added are often highly paid. The median household income in the San Jose metro tops $95,000 and ranks third highest in the U.S.  The city is a magnet for high-tech companies, and has the highly educated population to support it.

Other cities to watch are New Orleans, Raleigh, Salt Lake City, Lexington KY, and Youngstown, OH.