Business & Real Estate

Top economic development micro-hub? Head north of Sacramento

Bins of aging prunes are stacked in a huge warehouse at Sunsweet’s processing plant in Yuba City, where they process millions of plums into prunes.
Bins of aging prunes are stacked in a huge warehouse at Sunsweet’s processing plant in Yuba City, where they process millions of plums into prunes. rpench@sacbee.com

Produce isn’t the only thing growing in Sutter County these days.

Greater Yuba City was ranked America’s seventh-best small metropolitan area for economic development in a recently released Milken Institute study. The analysis, which looked at cities’ job growth, GDP, wages and tech industries, pegged the Yuba City metropolitan area at 45th in the country in 2016.

More than 7,700 people work in health care in and around Yuba City, a 420-person increase over 2016, according to the study. The rise of companies such as Fremont-Rideout Health Group, which employs 2,200 people in the area, has shifted economic pressure from Beale Air Force Base in Marysville and the surrounding region’s agricultural sector.

“If Yuba health care can create a new major source of employment, this will go a long way in reducing the local economy’s dependence on the military and farming,” the report said.

A rising, senior-rich population near Yuba City has increased demand for medical care and contributed to more than 1,700 social assistance jobs being added in the last five years, the study said.

San Rafael finished fourth on the list, while Chico was No. 11 and Redding was No. 20. Napa slipped from ninth in 2016 to 38th in 2017 due mostly to weak job and GDP growth. The Bend/Redmond metropolitan area in central Oregon retained its top spot.

Benjy Egel: 916-321-1052, @BenjyEgel

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