Bolstered by gas industry, city near top of national list

When you live in an area, you know all its warts. So it’s only natural that we tend to take for granted the area we live in, not seeing the positives that are around us every day.

But the Milken Institute, a non-profit think tank, sees plenty of positives.

The institute ranked Williamsport as the sixth best performing small city in the United States in its latest ratings. That’s a leap in 13 places from the last ranking.

The only cities outranking Williamsport were Columbia, Mo., Columbus, Ind., Fargo, N.D. and Midland, Texas.

While we are well aware of local shortcomings, the institute ranked Williamsport sixth based on “strong five-year job growth and Top 10 rankings in one- and five-year wage growth. Williamsport has seen significant job growth in Marcellus Shale-related industries.”

The report did warn that lagging high-tech capabilities and educational attainment by the local workforce may inhibit future growth.

But for now, Williamsport’s metropolitan area ranks very high nationally among small cities in terms of its economic capability, due to strong performance by the Marcellus Shale gas industry and its traditional companies.

That’s what the Milken Institute is seeing.

The naysayers who refuse to see anything positive from the natural gas drilling industry in our area see other things, but at a certain point those perceptions start to lack credibility.

The industry has an obligation to respect the environment it is working in. To date, its track record on that locally has been very strong. As long as that remains the case, the Marcellus Shale activity in our region remains the most prolific economic generator in a half century.