Defying the economic success of western cities, Raleigh, N.C., ranked first this year in Forbes' list of the 200 "Best Places for Business and Careers."
Raleigh was the only eastern metro area to make the top 10.
Tampa Bay landed at No. 72 among the 200, based on the combined factors of the cost of doing business (ranking 136th), and its rank for job growth (100th) and education of the labor force (122nd).
The magazine's 16th annual metro rankings also considered income growth and quality of life.
Florida metros ranking higher than Tampa Bay were West Palm Beach at No. 54, Orlando at No. 67 and North Port (near Sarasota) at No. 69. Tallahassee ranked lowest in Florida at No. 165.
What makes Raleigh so special?
It has dominated many metro rankings in the Southeast for years. As Forbes noted: "Fueling Raleigh's consistent results are business costs that are 18 percent below the national average, and an adult population where 42 percent have a college degree, the 12th best rate in the U.S."
Also cited was Raleigh's proximity to such major universities as Duke and North Carolina, as well as the well known Research Triangle Park, a haven of business innovation for decades.
Tampa Bay economic developers used to compare this metro area against five competing cities (Atlanta, Jacksonville, Charlotte, Dallas and Raleigh) in a semiannual economic "report card" but discontinued the comparison in the recession when Tampa Bay consistently ranked at or near the bottom.