Fort Collins, Colorado. Photo Credit: marekuliasz (iStock).

Fort Collins, Colorado. Photo Credit: marekuliasz (iStock).

The Milken Institute has released a ranking based on their 'best-performing cities' index, which tracks the economic performance of roughly 400 metropolitan areas across the United States. Two Colorado cities were placed in the 'tier one' category, which is reserved for the best of the best.

While no Colorado cities were included among the small city 'tier one' selections, both Denver and Fort Collins made the cut for the 'large cities' list.

The Denver metropolitan area ranked higher at 11th, seven spots up from a 2020 ranking of 18th. Wage growth, broadband access, and growth among high-tech industries contributed to the area's success. It's also worth noting that the high average level of education among its residents makes the Mile High City quite appealing to companies in the tech sector, with more than 50 percent of those in the area 25 or older having obtained a bachelor's degree or higher.

Fort Collins was ranked 12th, nine spots up from a 2020 ranking of 21st. Recent high-tech GDP growth was a key driver behind this jump, which is up 11.5 percent from 2018-2019. Nine high-tech industries are locally represented in Fort Collins, including semiconductor manufacturing.

Colorado Springs earned a 17th place ranking among America's large cities, which classified it as a 'tier 2' city. Greeley and Boulder were also included on the 'tier 2' city list, ranking 43rd and 44th, respectively.

See the full report from Milken Institute here.

Director of Content and Operations

Spencer McKee manages the OutThere Colorado digital publication as the Director of Content and Operations. In his spare time, Spencer loves to rock climb, trail run, and mountain bike. Follow along with his adventures on Instagram at @spence.outside


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(3) comments


I am so tired of these armchair Monday morning quarterback articles about Colorado. It's obvious these people don't live here or they would know firsthand how out of touch they are. These numbers are completely bogus and meaningless. Housing, traffic, and out-of-staters coming here are out of control. All you see around here are new homes going up in areas where roads can't properly service them and the traffic control system appears to run on an old x486 computer. And it BSOD'd 5 years ago.

Here's an idea, focus a few articles on real life here and how housing has gone up, traffic is west-coast screwed up and how peaceful it used to be. Stop putting lipstick on this pig and get these puff pieces right for once.


Apparently, the judges didn't have to go across town at rush hour in either Denver or Fort Collins. Nor did they have to try to buy property in either city. Other than having to afford to live there and commute to work, then both cities are pretty nice.

Roger Sace

Agree. Traffic was horrible 35 years ago when we left. The Denver house we sold for $110,000 is now "valued at $950,00 and the FC house is "valued at $700,000. I understand appreciation over time but that is ridiculous. Traffic in Denver was horrible then, night sound of sirens and helicopters every night, thieves stealing everything, even if bolted down. FC has grown so much we had trouble finding the house that was on the southern border. Yeah, Colorado has been "Californicated." Enjoying Green Mountain Bliss.

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