The Auburn-Opelika metro area has once again received national recognition from a national publication for its job creation success.

Forbes recently ranked the Auburn-Opelika metro area No. 7 nationally on its list of the best small cities for jobs. The city of Auburn announced the designation last week.

“Forbes ranked 258 metropolitan statistical areas with less than 150,000 jobs, considering employment growth over short-, medium- and long-terms, growth trends and momentum,” the city stated on its website. “The report sites diversification of the economy as potentially ‘the best guide to future smaller city growth.’”

Both Auburn and Opelika have enjoyed recent victories in their job creation efforts. Earlier this month, Touchstone Precision Incorporated (TPI), an injection molding and stamping company, celebrated the grand opening of its newest expansion — a 67,000-square-foot production facility at its Auburn operation on South Technology Parkway. The company is expected to add 27 jobs in the next two years. And at last week’s Annual Meeting of the Opelika Chamber of Commerce, local officials discussed the ongoing $300 million expansion of Baxter. The expansion is expected to create more than 200 jobs by next year, and will double the plant’s capacity to produce dialyzers for renal disease patients.

Forbes stated there were 60,700 jobs in the area in 2014, with a short-term job growth of 3.5 percent in 2014, and a longer-term job growth of 16.1 percent from 2009 to 2014. Last week, the Alabama Department of Labor released unemployment statistics for May which stated that Lee County tied with Elmore County for the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 5.1 percent. Only Shelby County at 4.2 percent reported a lower unemployment rate. Lee County’s rate is lower than the state (6.2 percent) and national (5.3 percent) averages.

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