Weld County ranks fourth in nation for GDP growth in 2014 | MyWindsorNow.com

Weld County ranks fourth in nation for GDP growth in 2014

Bridgett Weaver

Weld County's economic growth is topping the charts.

The Greeley Metropolitan Statistical Area, better known as Weld County, ranked No. 4 in the nation for economic growth in 2014, according to U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data released this week.

"In the Top 10, there's no other Colorado community and in the Top 5, we're the one Colorado community," said Sarah MacQuiddy, president of the Greeley Chamber of Commerce. "It reflects so positively on everything in our MSA. We have seen so many industries doing well."

The bureau releases the gross domestic product information annually to indicate the climate of the economy, both nationally and at the local level.

“It reflects so positively on everything in our MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area). We have seen so many industries doing well.

— Sarah MacQuiddy, president of the Greeley Chamber of Commerce

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"Overall, GDP statistics will illustrate whether a metropolitan area is growing or declining," said Ralph Rodriguez, an economist with the bureau. "It's the most comprehensive measure of overall economic activity in a metropolitan area."

And the data reflects Greeley's rapidly growing economy.

The data shows that Greeley's real GDP, which is an adjusted number based on the 2009 dollar, was $9.01 billion in 2014, rising from 8.2 billion in 2013. That is a 9.9 percent growth year over year, which is the largest percentage change Greeley has seen in the last five years.

The 9.9 percent change breaks down by industry, showing the natural resources and mining sector leads Greeley's growth, accounting for 3.65 percent of the growth. Overall, mining grew 24.6 percent from 2013-14.

Construction was second, accounting for 1.28 percent of the growth; the construction industry grew 14.4 percent in 2014.

The anticipated economic impacts of the oil and gas downturn, which would likely affect Weld County more than other areas in the state, were not evident in the data.

Economists think the economic impact of oil dropping to the $40 per barrel mark may end up being minimal, because construction has picked up along the Front Range. Many oil field workers who have been laid off have found other jobs in the area, specifically in construction.

"I think the dip that we're seeing has to play a factor when they do the analysis in 2015," MacQuiddy said. "We know the industry has not come to a halt, but has been much more conservative, so that will be a factor. There's no getting around it."

Weld County's 2014 growth was outpaced by only three other MSA's in the U.S.: Lake Charles, La., ranked third, with 10.3 percent GDP growth; San Angelo, Texas, with 11.4 percent GDP growth; and Midland, Texas, which was first, with 24.1 percent GDP growth.

Colorado's overall GDP growth ranked fifth in the nation with 4.7 increase in 2014.

No other Colorado region ranked in the Top 5 in the nation, but three others were in the top 50 of 381 MSAs.

The Fort Collins MSA, which includes Larimer County, ranked 18th in the nation and grew by 5.9 percent. The Denver-Aurora-Lakewood MSA, grew by 5 percent, and ranked 27th overall. Boulder MSA, or Boulder County, grew by 4.6 percent, ranking 30th in the nation.

MacQuiddy said people and industries alike are moving to Greeley. It's evident in the number of companies that have joined the chamber in recent years, she said.

"People want to be where the action is," MacQuiddy said. "When we're out talking with folks, people are feeling very, very positive about the overall climate in Greeley."

The news of 2014's economy was encouraging, she said.

"It's another great day when you see that news coming across, and that it's Greeley leading the way," she said.

Bridgett Weaver covers business and agriculture in Weld County. To contact her email bweaver@greeleytribune.com or follow her on Twitter at @cityofbridgetts.