Staff file photo by Dan Henry / Pedestrians walk along the sidewalk in downtown Winchester, Tenn.

The Tullahoma and Manchester area in Middle Tennessee is one of the nation's strongest micropolitan areas, according to a new study prepared by an independent economics research that specializes in analyzing local and state economies and economic development.

The annual report prepared by POLICOM Corp., said the Tullahoma-Manchester micropolitan statistical area in Coffee, Franklin and Moore counties was second only to the Sevierville area in its economic growth among the 17 micropolitan areas of Tennessee.

The rankings reflect the condition of the economy from the viewpoint of its impact upon the standard of living of the people who live and work in the area.

Thom Robinson, executive director of the Tullahoma Area Economic Development Corp., cheered the new report.

"It's a good day in the life of this city, county and region, and, hopefully, there will continue to be many future, similar announcements each year recognizing the growth of the local economy," Robinson said.

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FILE - In this Aug. 14, 2014 file photo, a Diageo employee walks by barrels of whiskey stored in a new warehouse at the George Dickel distillery near Tullahoma, Tenn. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig, File)

The Tullahoma-Manchester micropolitan statistical area includes about 104,000 people, according to officials. In the latest ranking, the three-county local area is ranked 56 out of 543 Micropolitan Areas in the United States.

Franklin County Chamber of Commerce executive director Kayla Doney said she's not sure what is driving the economy, but it has remained strong, she'd even call it "booming."

"Our sales tax [collections] have actually increased since last year," Doney said Wednesday. "I don't know if it was because of the stimulus checks and they were spending them locally or what."

Unemployment in the Tullahoma area in December was 5.6% — below both the state' 6.2% or the national jobless rate of 6.7% for the month.

"We believe what brings people to our area are the beautiful lakes and the mountains," Done said. "We're kind of like a little piece of paradise on earth. We also have a low cost of living and our housing market is booming right now, and from what I've gathered we have really good prices on homes for sale and rent compared to other areas."

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Staff file photo by Dan Henry / The Oldham Theater is located in downtown Winchester, Tenn.

Moore Metropolitan Mayor Bonnie Lewis in Lynchburg was unfamiliar with the report and declined to comment immediately on the ranking.

As defined by the federal government, "micropolitan" areas are smaller areas, must have at least one county and have an urban center of at least 10,000 but fewer than 50,000 people. A "metropolitan" area must be at least one county and have a city with a population of at least 50,000. Most are composed of multiple counties, according to POLICOM.

Third rank Cookeville's micropolitan area was nationally ranked at 57, immediately after the Tullahoma-Manchester area. Two other micropolitan areas in Southeast Tennessee, Athens, which was ranked 95th nationally, and Dayton's micropolitan area, came in a distant 320 out of the nation's 543 micropolitan statistical areas, according to the report.

Nationally, POLICOM's report ranks the Nashville/Davidson County/Murfreesboro/Franklin metropolitan statistical area fourth behind the the metropolitan areas of Seattle/Tacoma/ Bellevue in Washington, Austin/Round Rock/Georgetown in Texas and San Jose-Sunnyvale/Santa Clara in California. Chattanooga's metropolitan statistical area, which includes Marion and Sequatchie counties, was ranked at 123.

Contact Ben Benton at or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at

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1. Bozeman, Mont.

2. Heber, Utah

3. Vineyard Haven, Maine

4. Breckenridge, Colo.

5. Jackson, Wyo.-Idaho

6. Ellensburg, Wash.

7. Edwards, Colo,

8. Hood River, Ore.

9. Kapaa, Hawaii

10. Red Bluff, Calif.


1. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash.

2. Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, Texas

3. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.

4. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn.

5. Salt Lake City, Utah

6. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, N.C.-S.C.

7. Raleigh-Cary, N.C.

8. Charleston-North Charleston, S.C.

9. Boise City, Idaho

10. Sioux Falls, S.D.

Source: 2021 Metropolitan Micropolitan Economic Strenth Rankings, POLICOM Corporation

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Staff file photo by John Rawlston / The Ganoe-Bussell cabin, believed to be the oldest structure in Tullahoma, Tenn., was rebuilt on the lawn of the South Watson Civic Center, near its original location.