That is the analysis from a recent report from the Manhattan Institute, a leading New York based free market think tank that focuses on economic growth, education, energy and environment, health care, legal reform, public sector, race, and urban policy. 

MI identifies 10 cities, almost all in the Midwest that are succeeding as economic centers of their state or region and are more frequently appealing to National and International audiences. While there are larger cities experiencing major booms, and cities scattered across the rust belt and elsewhere experiencing stagnation – these 10 “blooming” cities often fly below the radar, including out of state “coastal” real estate investors. 

These 10 cities perform above average compared to other American cities in terms of population growth, job growth, GDP per capita, and college attainment. 

The 10 Cities that made the list are:

Brown And White Concrete Building
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Fargo, North Dakota
  • Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Kansas City, Missouri-Kansas
  • Lexington, Kentucky
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Minneapolis–St. Paul, Minnesota

FIGURE 1. 

Population Growth, 2019–18 

Metro Area  2010  2018  Total Change  Percentage Change 
Fargo, ND-MN  209,350  245,471  36,121  17.3% 
Des Moines–West Des Moines, IA  571,967  655,409  83,442  14.6% 
Columbus, OH  1,906,365  2,106,541  200,176  10.5% 
Lexington-Fayette, KY  473,306  516,697  43,391  9.2% 
Madison, WI  606,578  660,422  53,844  8.9% 
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN  1,892,470  2,048,703  156,233  8.3% 
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI  3,355,196  3,629,190  273,994  8.2% 
Grand Rapids–Wyoming, MI  989,416  1,069,405  79,989  8.1% 
Kansas City, MO-KS  2,013,412  2,143,651  130,239  6.5% 
United States  309,326,085  327,167,434  17,841,349  5.8% 
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN  2,117,729  2,190,209  72,480  3.4% 
Source: Census Bureau Population Estimates Program (PEP), Vintage 2018; the 2010 number is the midyear estimate. 

FIGURE 2. 

Job Growth, 2010–18 (in thousands) 

Metro Area  2010  2018  Total Change  Percentage Change 
Grand Rapids–Wyoming, MI  454.2  564.5  110.3  24.3% 
Columbus, OH  920.3  1099.5  179.2  19.5% 
Fargo, ND-MN  120.2  142  21.8  18.1% 
Des Moines–West Des Moines, IA  315.8  370.8  55  17.4% 
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN  912.3  1,070.8  158.5  17.4% 
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI  1,749.7  2,011.1  261.4  14.9% 
United States  130,362  149,074  18,712  14.4% 
Lexington-Fayette, KY  242.4  276.2  33.8  13.9% 
Kansas City, MO-KS  965  1,096.5  131.5  13.6% 
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN  981.6  1,108.4  126.8  12.9% 
Madison, WI  359.4  403.5  44.1  12.3% 

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics, State and Area Employment data 

All of these cities are located in the Midwest and Great Plains states, except for Lexington, KY which is technically in the South, however the demographic trends of Kentucky are more similar to the Midwest than the South, according to MI.

What many of these cities have in common is that they are solidifying their role as regional hubs as the mega trend of urbanization continues. All of these cities are primarily benefiting from in state migration as people leave rural counties seeking opportunities and amenities that cities can offer. 

Source: Census Bureau Population Estimates Program, Vintage 2018; the 2010 number is the midyear estimate. 

FIGURE 9. 

States with Shrinking County Populations: 2010–18 

State  Total Counties  Shrinking Counties  Share of Shrinking Counties 
Illinois  102  93  91.2% 
Kansas  105  89  84.8% 
Iowa  99  71  71.7% 
Ohio  88  59  67.0% 
Missouri  115  75  65.2% 
Michigan  83  53  63.9% 
Indiana  92  57  62.0% 
Kentucky  120  63  52.5% 
North Dakota  53  27  50.9% 
Minnesota  87  44  50.6% 
Wisconsin  72  35  48.6% 
Source: Census Bureau Population Estimates Program, Vintage 2018; the 2010 number is the midyear estimate. 

Check out MI’s executive summary and to go deeper download the full report.