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Do you know if there is any advantage for a county to be a member of a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in terms of either government funding, business opportunities or any other economic/financial advantage?
Metropolitan area definitions are not supposed to be political, but that is not to say that there have not been controversies associated with this process. Here is an article related to the controversies associated with the metropolitan area definitions after the 1990 census:
Likewise, here is a more recent paper on the "growth impact" of the metropolitan statistical area designation:
Here is further information related to your question.
This is the original notice of the proposed changes to the metropolitan area definition:
The following is a guide to the new definitions: