Area Development Magazine recently released figures reveal that the Williamsport Metropolitan Statistical Area - or MSA - is strong in the category of small cities for various economic and work force indicators in 2014.
The magazine considered 379 MSAs of various population sizes across the U.S. as part of its Leading Locations study.
Among small cities, Williamsport was ranked 29th overall.
In addition, Williamsport was ranked 10th for economic strength, and 8th for recession busting.
Overall, Williamsport ranked 123 among all cities - just ahead of Corvallis, Ore., and just below Goldsboro, N.C.
MSAs were considered across 21 economic and work force indicators, according to the magazine. The 21 indicators were pulled from seven data sets originating from four sources: the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Census American Community Service, and Moody's Analytics.
Overall rankings were also calculated across four categories: Prime Work Force, Economic Strength, Recession-Busting Cities, and Year-Over-Year Growth. Among the sub-category indicators were: Prime Work Force Inward Migration, Wage and Salary Growth, Per Capita GDP, Manufacturing Job Growth, Local Area Unemployment Rate.
The purpose of the study was to identify which cities are emerging as frontrunners in economic development and why, according to the magazine.
Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce President Vincent Matteo noted that while the boom days of the natural gas industry are in the past, the Marcellus Shale continues to help sustain the local economy.
And the industry has not really slowed down as much as many people think.
"Without natural gas development, you wouldn't see the activity of small businesses you see," he said.
He noted that regional employment levels for the region are back to about what they were before the recession in 2008.
"That is not happening everywhere," he added.
Companies, both gas-related and non-gas-related, are continuing to eye Lycoming County as a viable site for business start-ups too.
"The top MSAs in the list demonstrate that a variety of strong individual drivers, or a combination of many factors, can move a city's attractiveness as a business site into the foreground," wrote Area Development Magazine Staff Editor Dale D. Buss who researched the information. "Chief among those drivers for 2014 are the renaissance in domestic manufacturing, the gusher of economic blessings flowing from the fracking revolution in U.S. oil and gas fields, and the spread of America's high-technology dominance to sparkling new urban epicenters even as the birthplaces of this advantage retain their sheen."
Overall for small cities, Williamsport finished ahead of the Altoona and Johnstown MSAs, ranked 261 and 298, respectively.
Small Pennsylvania cities ranking ahead of Williamsport were State College at 49, and Lebanon, 81.
Matteo was puzzled over Lebanon's high ranking.
"That is a very interesting one to me," he said. "I want to look into that."
Buss noted that the long-term success of high-ranking cities is dependent upon how effectively they respond to factors that affect economic performance, create healthy businesses climates and invest in the future.
"The locations that best create and sustain such multilevel support not only are best at landing new companies but also excel at supporting local companies and helping them hone their competitiveness with rivals at home and abroad," Buss wrote.