- October 2, 2018
It's been nearly eight years since the New York Times shredded Leigh Acres, east of Fort Myers, as the “American dream in high reverse” for its sky-high foreclosure rate and job losses.
But the town has battled back. Its latest forward move: The city was named the third-fastest growing city nationwide in a comprehensive survey from financial data firm WalletHub. Fort Myers was No. 14 on the survey, while Brandon, in Hillsborough County, ranked No. 16.
WalletHub evaluated more than 500 cities on 14 metrics with the data spanning from 2009 to 2015 in most categories. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing optimal economic growth. The final scores were calculated using the weighted average across all metrics.
Leigh Acres, with a score of 66.04, nearly hit the top spot on the list. Frisco and League City, Texas were the top two cities, with scores of 66.57 and 66.18, respectively.
Leigh Acres also was the top city on the list in WalletHub's “sociodemographics” metric, which gives double weight to population growth and full weight to working-age population growth and college-educated population growth.
Fort Myers, with an overall score of 59.8, ranked No. 2 for highest job growth. Brandon, meanwhile posted an overall score of 58.82 and was No. 4 in
The bottom of the list was mostly occupied by cities in the Midwest. Dayton, Cincinnati and Toledo, for example, were the last three on the midsize city list, with scores all less than 31. The bottom five of the small city list includes Gary, Ind. and Flint, Mich. And St. Louis, Cleveland and Detroit hold three of the bottom four spots on the large city list. (Atlanta is second to last.)
Gulf Coast cities on WalletHub list
City total score national ranking
Leigh Acres 66.04 3
Fort Myers 59.8 14
Brandon 58.82 19
Cape Coral 54.02 43
Largo 46.05 168
St. Petersburg 44.87 210
Tampa 44.84 212
Clearwater 44.62 219
Lakeland 44.44 227
Town 'N Country 38.26 415
Note: Sarasota and Bradenton weren't included on the list.