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Quincy, Ardmore, Lenoir top best small cities for high-tech manufacturing

Princeton, N.J. — Quincy, Wash., Ardmore, Okla., and Lenoir, N.C., earned the top U.S. small market city rankings for high-tech manufacturing in the western, central and eastern regions, respectively, according to a study from The Boyd Company Inc. The national site selection study compared the cost of operating a high-tech manufacturing facility in 45 small market cities in the United States.

The independent study, “A Comparative Operating Cost Analysis for High Tech Manufacturing in Selected Small City Locations,” focused on up-and-coming small market cities in each region of the country considered to be on the radar screen for new high-tech industry as the economy emerges from recession in 2010/11. The cost comparisons took into account costs for labor, electric power, amortization, property and sales tax and corporate travel.

The study based costs on a hypothetical 250,000-sq.-ft. production facility employing 300 workers. Boyd said the analysis was structured to be a useful cost comparison tool for a broad range of high-technology companies involved in advanced manufacturing operations and computer-operated production processes in sectors such as precision metalworking, engineered plastics, carbon composites and other advanced manufacturing fields.

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The study found that annual costs in the western part of the nation range from a high of $28.0 million per year in Walnut Creek, California to a low of $21.1 million in Quincy, Washington. Annual costs in the central region range from $24.9 million in Urbana, Illinois to $20.1 million in Ardmore, Oklahoma. In the east, annual costs range from $34.6 million in Melville, New York to $20.0 million in Lenoir, North Carolina.

“In today’s difficult business environment, comparative economics are ruling the corporate site selection process. For many companies, improving the bottom line on the cost side of the ledger is far easier than on the revenue side. As a result, location decisions at every level of the corporate organizational structure, from off-shored call centers and remote branch plants and warehouses right up to the corporate head office, are all being made with cost minimization as an overriding objective,” said Jack Boyd, president of The Boyd Company, in a statement. “Competitive pressures brought on by global free trade are also making comparative costs the white hot issue in today’s corporate boardrooms.”

Here’s a quick review of the best small cities in each region.

The study finds that low cost and green hydroelectric power is fueling much of the high-tech growth in and around Quincy, Washington (pop. 6,500). In addition, the study indicates that Quincy is rich in fiber optics and is located on the main line of the BNSF railroad and is linked to port facilities in Seattle/Tacoma via I-90. Other benefits include plentiful water supply and no personal income tax in the state.

Ardmore, located along the NAFTA Super Highway, I-35, midway between Dallas and Oklahoma City, offers low land costs, construction costs and utility rates, according to the study. It is also only 90 minutes from the high growth northern suburbs of Dallas, DFW International Airport and major metropolitan area amenities of the greater Dallas-Ft. Worth area.

The study reveals that Lenoir is shedding its image as a furniture industry capital and is moving into the high-tech sector with companies like Google, Corning, Apple and Commscope. The city boasts a favorable labor market, low costs, a moderate climate and proximity to Charlotte.