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25 Fastest-Growing Cities in the South

In this article, we will take a look at the 25 fastest-growing cities in the South. You can skip our detailed talk on the Pro-business South and head over to 10 Fastest-Growing Cities in the South.

The American South, long celebrated for its rich history, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality, is now emerging as a powerhouse of economic growth and innovation. Across the region, from the toasty shores of Miami to the bustling streets of Atlanta, opportunities, for both businesses and individuals seeking prosperity and success, are in abundance. From thriving tech hubs to rapidly growing cultural centers, the South is not only experiencing rapid population growth but also fostering an environment ripe for investment, creativity, and advancement.

The South of the United States stands as a vibrant hub of economic activity, possessing a diverse array of businesses from multiple industries that enrich the fabric of its cities and communities. The job market in the South is thriving, fueled by a mix of established corporations, innovative startups, and rapidly growing industries such as technology, healthcare, and finance. Companies like The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) in Atlanta, FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) in Memphis, and HCA Healthcare, Inc. (NYSE:HCA) in Nashville are just a few examples of the prominent businesses that call the South home, providing employment opportunities across various sectors.

Southern states are known to have business-friendly policies, including lower corporate taxes, fewer regulations, and incentives for investment and job creation. The location of Atlanta, Georgia has proven to be a great source of enabling international distribution opportunities for The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO). The company’s rapid expansion around the world can be attributed to its unique franchise distribution system that they have operated since 1889. Coca-Cola produces syrup concentrate which is then sold to various bottlers around the world. This helps the company maintain control over its top-secret recipe without the burden of having to run many of the independent bottling facilities. As a major transportation hub, Atlanta benefits from its strategic location, with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport serving as one of the busiest airports in the world and facilitating global connectivity allowing businesses like The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) to smoothly expand across the globe.

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Besides that, settling in the South brings some other perks for both individuals and businesses looking to settle here. For example, Texas and Florida are known for their lack of state income tax. The South generally offers a lower cost of living and cost of operations when doing business compared to other regions of the country. This translates into lower expenses for businesses, including labor wages, real estate, and utilities. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the cost of living in Southern states like Alabama and Mississippi is significantly lower than the national average.

These are the same reasons because of which there's a migration underway from California to Texas, of both individuals and businesses. According to the American Community Survey of 2021, the number of individuals that moved out of California and relocated to Texas went up by 36% during the period of 2016-2021.

The strategic positioning of the South in the Americas serves as a leverage for businesses looking to access markets both domestically and internationally. With well-developed transportation infrastructure, including major airports, seaports, and interstate highways, the region offers efficient connectivity for the movement of goods and services - like the Port of Houston in Texas is one of the busiest ports in the United States, facilitating trade with Latin America and beyond. Besides that, because the South is home to various industries, ranging from aerospace and automotive manufacturing to energy and healthcare, this diversity creates a robust ecosystem of suppliers, customers, and partners, fostering collaboration and innovation within key industry clusters. For example, the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina is renowned for its concentration of high-tech companies and research institutions, driving innovation and economic growth in the region.

Beyond job prospects, the desirability of cities in the South extends far beyond economic considerations. With its warm climate, diverse culture, and rich heritage, the region offers a high quality of life that attracts residents from across the country and around the globe. Cities like Austin, Texas, and Nashville, Tennessee, have garnered reputations as vibrant cultural hubs that have thriving music scenes, world-class dining options, and a lively arts community. Meanwhile, coastal cities like Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, offer picturesque landscapes, historic charm, and a relaxed pace of life that appeals to residents seeking a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of urban living.

Choosing to move to cities in the South not only offers a wealth of career opportunities and cultural experiences but also brings with it a host of tangible benefits for overall well-being and quality of life. Having said that, let’s look at the list of 25 fastest-growing cities in the South.

25 Fastest-Growing Cities in the South
25 Fastest-Growing Cities in the South

Methodology

To compile the list of the 25 fastest growing cities in the South of the US, we picked 25 southern cities with the highest GDP growth rates as of 2022 which we sourced from The American Growth Project. The list is presented in ascending order of high growth rates.

By the way, Insider Monkey is an investing website that tracks the movements of corporate insiders and hedge funds. By using a similar consensus approach, we identify the best stock picks of more than 900 hedge funds investing in US stocks. The top 10 consensus stock picks of hedge funds outperformed the S&P 500 Index by more than 140 percentage points over the last 10 years (see the details here). Whether you are a beginner investor or a professional one looking for the best stocks to buy, you can benefit from the wisdom of hedge funds and corporate insiders.

25 Fastest-Growing cities in the South

25. Memphis, Tennessee

GDP Growth Rate: -0.4%

Memphis, Tennessee, while not always ranked among the fastest-growing cities in the South in terms of population, exhibits significant growth and economic development driven by its strategic location as a transportation and logistics hub along the Mississippi River, anchored by the FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX), and its strong presence in healthcare and biotechnology with institutions like St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The city's manufacturing and distribution sectors, supported by its logistical infrastructure, contribute to its economic vitality, alongside cultural attractions such as Graceland and Beale Street, fostering growth in tourism. Recent revitalization efforts aimed at redevelopment, infrastructure improvement, and support for small businesses further contribute to Memphis' overall growth and importance in the region.

24. Virginia Beach, Virginia

GDP Growth Rate: -0.4%

As a coastal city, Virginia Beach benefits from its scenic beaches, recreational amenities, and tourism industry, drawing visitors and residents alike. The city's diverse economy encompasses sectors such as tourism, military, healthcare, and technology, providing a wide range of employment opportunities. Additionally, Virginia Beach's location is positioned within the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, along with its strong educational institutions and infrastructure investments, which further contribute to its growth and desirability as a place to live and work in the South.

23. Birmingham, Alabama

GDP Growth Rate: 0.3%

Historically known for its iron and steel industry, Birmingham has evolved into a modern metropolis with a booming healthcare, finance, and technology sector. The city's central position within the Southeast region makes it an attractive destination for businesses seeking logistical advantages and access to markets. Moreover, ongoing revitalization initiatives, including downtown redevelopment projects and investments in infrastructure, contribute to Birmingham's appeal as a vibrant and dynamic place for both residents and businesses in the South.

22. Richmond, Virginia

GDP Growth Rate: 0.6%

Richmond, Virginia, secures its position among the fastest-growing cities in the South due to its diverse economy, cultural vibrancy, and strategic location. As the capital of Virginia, Richmond serves as a key economic and cultural center. Moreover, Richmond's proximity to major metropolitan areas on the East Coast and its robust transportation infrastructure further aid its appeal as a prime location for investment, growth, and opportunity in the South.

21. Huntsville, Alabama

GDP Growth Rate: 0.8%

Huntsville distinguishes itself as one of the fastest-growing cities in the South due to its robust aerospace and technology industries, coupled with a strong emphasis on innovation and research. Known as the "Rocket City," Huntsville is home to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and numerous defense contractors, driving advancements in aerospace, defense, and engineering. The city's thriving tech sector, fueled by the presence of Cummings Research Park, the second-largest research park in the United States, attracts top talent and fosters entrepreneurship and innovation. 

20. Little Rock, Arkansas

GDP Growth Rate: 1.3%

Little Rock benefits from its status as the state capital, with a concentration of government institutions, administrative offices, and associated services driving economic activity. The city's cultural attractions, including museums, theaters, and festivals, add to its appeal as a vibrant and dynamic urban center. Moreover, Little Rock's commitment to education is evident through its numerous colleges and universities, such as the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, providing a skilled workforce and fostering innovation and research. Lastly, ongoing urban revitalization efforts, infrastructure investments, and business-friendly policies further aid Little Rock's growth and attractiveness as a destination for both residents and businesses in the South.

19. Atlanta, Georgia

GDP Growth Rate: 1.4%

In addition to its dynamic economy and cultural vibrancy, Atlanta, Georgia, has several unique features that contribute to its status as one of the fastest-growing cities in the South. It is recognized as a global leader in the film and entertainment industry, earning the nickname "Hollywood of the South" due to its thriving film production scene and the presence of major studios such as Tyler Perry Studios and Pinewood Atlanta Studios. Atlanta's diverse and inclusive community, exemplified by its status as a major center for civil rights activism and its vibrant LGBTQ+ scene, fosters a sense of belonging and attracts residents from all walks of life. Furthermore, it hosts the headquarters of one of the largest beverage companies in the world, which is The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO).

18. Fort Worth, Texas

GDP Growth Rate: 1.6%

As part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, Fort Worth benefits from its proximity to a major international airport, extensive highway networks, and a strong logistics and distribution sector, making it an attractive destination for businesses seeking connectivity and access to markets. Its diverse economy encompasses industries such as aerospace, defense, energy, and healthcare, contributing to job growth and economic prosperity. Additionally, Fort Worth's rich Western heritage, showcased through attractions like the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District and the annual Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, adds to its charm and appeal as a distinctive cultural destination within the South.

17. Miami, Florida

GDP Growth Rate: 1.6%

Renowned for its vibrant art scene, eclectic mix of cultures, and world-class dining and nightlife, Miami attracts visitors and residents from around the globe. The city's geographical position as a gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean, combined with its thriving finance, trade, and tourism industries, makes it a hub for international business and investment. Additionally, Miami's year-round warm climate, pristine beaches, and outdoor recreational opportunities contribute to its allure as a desirable destination for those seeking a high-quality lifestyle. Moreover, ongoing infrastructure development, urban renewal projects, and a growing tech startup scene further propel Miami's growth and position it as a leading city in the South.

16. Tampa, Florida

GDP Growth Rate: 1.8%

Situated along the Gulf Coast, Tampa benefits from its access to major shipping routes. Additionally, Tampa's rich cultural heritage, vibrant arts scene, and historic neighborhoods, such as Ybor City, contribute to its charm and appeal as a dynamic urban destination. Moreover, the city's extensive waterfront parks, recreational trails, and access to renowned beaches like Clearwater and St. Pete Beach offer residents and visitors abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation and leisure. Ongoing development projects, including the revitalization of downtown and the expansion of the Riverwalk, further enhance Tampa's growth and desirability as a place to live, work, and play in the South.

15. Houston, Texas

GDP Growth Rate: 1.8%

As the fourth-largest city in the United States, Houston benefits from its status as a global energy capital, home to the headquarters of numerous oil and gas companies and the renowned Texas Medical Center, the largest medical complex in the world. The city's thriving aerospace, manufacturing, and technology sectors further contribute to its economic growth and job creation. Plus, Houston's cultural diversity, exemplified by its vibrant culinary scene, international festivals, and diverse neighborhoods like the historic Third Ward and the bustling Chinatown, adds to its dynamic and inclusive atmosphere. Furthermore, this city's commitment to sustainability, evidenced by initiatives such as the Houston Green Building Resource Center and the Bayou Greenways project, reflects its forward-thinking approach to urban development and quality of life. These factors, combined with Houston's affordability, strong job market, and resilience in the face of adversity, make it an attractive destination for businesses and individuals seeking opportunity and prosperity in the South.

14. Knoxville, Tennessee

GDP Growth Rate: 1.9%

This city is home to the University of Tennessee, a leading research institution that fosters innovation and talent development. Knoxville's vibrant downtown area, revitalized waterfront, and thriving arts and music scene contribute to its charm and appeal. The affordability, low cost of living, and abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities, including hiking, biking, and boating, make Knoxville an attractive destination for residents and businesses seeking a high quality of life in the South.

13. Nashville, Tennessee

GDP Growth Rate: 1.9%

Renowned as the "Music City," Nashville shares a global landscape for the music industry, attracting musicians, songwriters, and music enthusiasts from around the world. Its diverse economy encompasses sectors such as healthcare, finance, technology, and tourism, providing a robust job market and economic opportunities. HCA Healthcare, Inc. (NYSE:HCA) plays a significant role in opening doors for many healthcare professionals to seek work and residence here. Nashville's rich history, historic landmarks, and world-class entertainment venues, including the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame, add to its allure as a cultural destination. Furthermore, the city's dynamic culinary scene, with a growing food and beverage industry, contributes to its reputation as a culinary hotspot in the South.

12. Jacksonville, Florida

GDP Growth Rate: 2.0%

As the largest city by land area in the contiguous United States, Jacksonville offers ample opportunities for growth and development across various sectors, including logistics, healthcare, finance, and technology. The city's position along the St. Johns River and its access to major transportation routes, including Interstate 95 and multiple ports, make it an attractive destination for businesses seeking access to markets and distribution channels. Jacksonville's stunning coastline, expansive parks, and outdoor recreational opportunities, such as boating, fishing, and golfing, contribute to its appeal as a desirable place to live and visit.

11. San Antonio, Texas

GDP Growth Rate: 2.4%

As the seventh-largest city in the United States, San Antonio benefits from its diverse economy supported by sectors such as healthcare, tourism, military, and manufacturing. This city is home to major healthcare institutions like the University of Texas Health Science Center and the South Texas Medical Center, contributing to its reputation as a leading healthcare destination. The city's dynamic culinary scene, with a blend of Tex-Mex, Southern, and international cuisines, further adds to its appeal. Moreover, San Antonio's affordability, strong job market, and family-friendly amenities make it an attractive destination for individuals and families seeking opportunity and a high quality of life in the South.

Click to continue reading and see 10 fastest-growing cities in the South.

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Disclosure: None. 25 fastest-growing cities in the South is originally published on Insider Monkey.