The “metro” designation (MSA) for mid-sized communities is in jeopardy. While this may not sound like a significant issue, the reality is that funding for cities across America is determined by this designation. Changes could have a ripple affect on the ability for small and mid-sized cities to recruit business, to receive federal funding, and to qualify for grant funding. The full ramifications of the change are unknown, but the good news is: it’s not too late to act.

The Problem

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is proposing changes to the definitions of Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) which would increase the size of MSAs from 50,000 people to 100,000 people. Representing the Oklahoma Department of Commerce (Commerce), Enid Regional Development Alliance and Lawton Fort Sill Economic Development Corporation, we encourage Oklahoma communities and the public to comment on the proposal by March 19, 2021 to draw attention to the issues with the proposal.

Changing the MSA designation will group all cities with populations between 1 – 99,999 into one category. The capacity of a city with 10,000 in population is dramatically different than a city with 75,000 in population. This proposed change has the possibility of pitting these cities against one another in the fight for funding and resources. In this scenario, the smaller cities are at a greater disadvantage. Both Enid and Lawton Oklahoma, which are currently MSAs of over 50,000 people, strongly urge the OMB to consider the full ramifications of this change on communities nationwide.

Additionally, when it comes to business attraction to the state, some prospective companies use MSA designation as a requirement for a community to submit a proposal. With two of our largest communities potentially losing that designation, this could be a significant disadvantage when competing for jobs and investment and result in fewer new jobs being brought to Oklahoma.

The Solution

Instead of making the proposed change, we recommend that the OMB consider adding a third-sized grouping for medium-sized cities, and that other stakeholders including state governments, local governments and the private sector be allowed to provide input before any changes are made.

We encourage individuals, organizations, companies or communities to make a formal comment against the OMB proposal by visiting: Comments must be submitted by March 19, 2021.