Oxford recognized as national leader in economic growth

Published 10:30 am Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Walton Family Foundation has recognized Oxford as one of the “fastest-growing micropolitans in the nation” in a recent “Micropolitan Success Stories” paper.

A micropolitan is a geographic area of one or more counties containing between 10,000 and 50,000 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The foundation credited Oxford’s growth to residents’ quality of life, healthcare and the tourism industry. 

In addition, much of the growth was also credited to the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation and Chamber of Commerce for its “diversified and thoughtful strategic economic development planning.”

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From 1970 to 2016, Oxford’s saw a 455 percent income growth rate and a 265 percent gain in employment, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce and Bureau of Economic Analysis. During this same time period, the national growth rate for personal income was 201 percent. According to Allen Kurr, vice president of the EDF, Oxford’s methods of success could be applied to help other communities grow, especially when it comes to aiding entrepreneurs.

“We take a nontraditional approach to development by focusing on people first, and are excited to demonstrate success with this unique method,” Kurr said in a recent news release. “Oxford’s strategy can be replicated in communities all over rural America. We are even more delighted about the recognition of our successful entrepreneurs.”

The Walton Family Foundation also recognized the expansion of Ole Miss, a thriving tourism industry and the presence of Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi in the community as economic drivers.

For example, in creating hundreds of jobs and expanding capital, the university has created a lasting development, the report read. The travel and tourism industry attracts thousands of visitors on an annual basis, creating 2,000 jobs and over $160 million in spending each year, according to statistics from the EDF.

“The Oxford micropolitan area shows that innovative activities targeted at economic development and diversification are not just the purview of big-city technology clusters located on the two Coasts,” the article said. “The economic development strategy relied upon recruiting and retaining talent, not just companies. Promoting cultural, arts and other amenities reinforces the quality-of-place attributes of the region and supports the recruitment of talent.”

“Micropolitan Success Stories” highlighted five communities across the heartland whose economic performance, the foundation said, has continually outpaced the nation and most coastal micropolitan areas. Communities recognized include Findlay, Ohio; Brookings, S.D.; Jasper, Ind.; Ardmore, Okla. and Oxford. To read the paper in full, please visit https://oxfordms.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/38/2018/06/MPS-May-2018.pdf.