Downtown Wild

Traffic flows through downtown Bozeman in this Chronicle file photo.

Bozeman was named one of the most dynamic communities of its size in a study released Tuesday.

Bozeman ranked No. 5 on the list, which analyzed economic performance and social indicators for cities of between 10,000 and 50,000 people. The study analyzed 531 towns and was done by the Walton Family Foundation, created by the family that owns Wal-Mart.

The study used factors like job growth, wage and income gains and the proportion of total jobs at young firms to determine rank. Bozeman ranked high because of tourism and a strong tech sector.

It has high number of photonics and optics firms per capita, many of them led by Montana State University graduates. Cities of Bozeman’s size with research universities did better than those without, according to the study.

“South Dakota State University in Brookings, the University of Mississippi in Oxford and Montana State University in Bozeman epitomize how research universities can support economic growth based upon innovative endeavors,” authors wrote.

Other cities on the list include Pecos, Texas, at No. 1, Jackson, Wyoming, at No. 3, and another tourism and recreation center, Heber, Utah, just before Bozeman at No. 4. Pecos landed on the list largely because of its oil exploration boom, while many other places ranked in the top 10 were in the inland northwest.

“A majority of the top 20 Most Dynamic Micropolitan areas were driven by some combination of tourism, recreation and the attraction of lifestyle amenities,” authors wrote.

Abby Lynes can be reached at or 406-582-2651. Follow her on Twitter @Abby_Lynes.

Abby Lynes covers business and the economy for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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