St. George garners top-10 rankings for ‘most dynamic metropolitan’ in Walton Family Foundation study

Virgin River, Zion National Park, date not specified | St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The city of St. George was in the top 10 for “most dynamic metropolitan” according to findings presented by the Walton Family Foundation.

The foundation ranked 379 cities across the nation, and St. George was No. 6 for overall most dynamic metropolitan and No. 5 for most dynamic small metropolitan. Small metropolitan areas were defined as cities with 499,999 people or less.

According to the foundation, St. George’s case was bolstered by its proximity to Zion National Park and the added benefits of tourism. The city has experienced “staggering” tourism growth.

Kevin Lewis, director of the Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office, said it’s exciting that tourism would be singled out in the study.

“We’ve always suggested that tourism is the large end of the funnel when it comes to economic development.”

The small metropolitan category findings from the Walton Family Foundation study on the most dynamic metropolitans in the U.S. | Photo courtesy of the Walton Family Foundation, St. George News

The study also cited the high number of retirees located in St. George for the “large and growing” health care system. The city has more than 1.5 times of metro workers in health care support occupations compared to the national average, according to the study.

St. George also ranked in the top 10 for overall and size group in young firm employment ratio, short-term job growth, short-term job momentum, and medium-term GDP growth. The city ranked first for overall and size group for medium-term job growth.

“We hope that continues in our area, that we continue to utilize the great tourism resources and assets we have to drive the economy and help make a better place for us to live and reside,” Lewis said.

However, St. George ranked in the bottom 10 for overall per capita personal income and was ranked No. 118 overall for short-term average annual pay growth.

Lewis said although tourism helps introduce people to the area, the tourism office is also trying to introduce the “right types of people.” The city is looking to draw in people who will invest in the tourism assets and who will bring greater investments to St. George through their own businesses and other tools to enhance economic development.

St. George might be too saturated in tourism and hospitality employment opportunities, Lewis said, but those lead to higher paying jobs for the future. That is already being exemplified with the migration of large manufacturing companies to St. George, like SkyWest and RAM Manufacturing Company.

“It’s all a part of a bigger puzzle,” he said.

The WFF is a family-led foundation whose mission is to address social and environmental issues in a quick and effective manner with long-term solutions. The foundation works to improve K-12 education, protect rivers and oceans, and invest in local regions.

Email: rrichardson@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @AvereeRyann

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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