Dynamic Urban Economies: Consistent Business Generators in the American Next Wave

  • Murray D. Rice University of North Texas
  • Donald Lyons University of North Texas
Keywords: Next Wave Firms, Regional Economic Development


This research investigates the recent evolution of the US economy by focusing on the geography of development among the firms that form the leading edge of change in the country – the group of “next wave” businesses that lead the nation in revenue growth rate. These businesses are important because their rapid growth is a signal that each business has gained some insight or edge that is driving their growth. Using three study questions, focusing on dispersion, regional development, and consistency, this study provides a profile of the recent evolution of the spatial distribution of next wave activity across the US. The dispersion results show that, although the geographic distribution of next wave firms is gradually becoming more like that of establishment firms, next wave businesses remain more widely spread, especially at the county level of analysis. The regional development results, focusing on a trend analysis of next wave firm location by county nationwide, further substantiate this “opportunity spread” finding by showing that many of the leading counties in terms of next wave growth are only minor business centers by any other measure. The consistency analysis concludes the study by showing the highly selective nature of the distribution of counties that most reliably produce and host next wave firms throughout the study period.


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