Updated at 6:10 p.m.: Added quotes from Mayor Kasim Reed; Corrected the number of American cities included in the top-25 Outlook.
While still performing well overall, Atlanta experienced the most drastic drop of any city in consultancy AT Kearney’s annual rankings examining the future potential of global hubs.
Atlanta was still firmly in the top 25 on the Global Cities Outlook, which estimates city competitiveness on a range of indicators, but it fell 11 slots from No. 6 in 2016 to No. 17 this year.
The Outlook is published alongside the Global Cities Index, which ranks 128 cities worldwide on 27 metrics. On that list, Atlanta ranked 38th overall, up two slots and roughly steady over the last five years.
In a way, the drop on the future-facing list could in part be a comedown from an abnormally positive 2016. That year, Atlanta had climbed 10 spots to No. 6 as the city won major technology investments and saw a surge in startup activity.
A Business Insider analysis, confirmed by an AT Kearney spokesperson, indicated that Atlanta’s fall was occasioned by a slowdown in the innovation segment, which measures patents granted, incubators launched and private investment. The category accounts for 25 percent of the rankings, and Atlanta held steady in other categories: personal well-being, economics and governance.
Mayor Kasim Reed still had no trouble touting the city’s innovation ecosystem in a statement announcing the ranking.
“Atlanta is already the economic and cultural capital of the Southeast, but because of the strong partnerships between the city, the state, colleges and universities and the private sector, Atlanta is emerging is emerging as the undisputed innovation leader of the region. We are building the future we want to see,” he said in a news release.
Economic developers do have a lot to be positive about in the report: Atlanta is one of nine American cities in the top 25 cities of the future and the only one in the South. For that matter, no Southern city other than Dallas (No. 48) was even measured in the 128-city Global Cities Index, a fact that leaders are sure to underscore as they claim regional preeminence.
Read more about how Atlanta stacks up against the world: Atlanta Still Making Waves on ‘Global Cities’ Indices