Mid-Sized Urban Markets Compare Well with Mega-Cities
The Montrose Group
Even before New York politics interfered with the Amazon HQ2 project, it was not the typical economic development project — not even counting the 50,000 jobs associated with it — but the decision of the company to end up in two major urban markets goes against recent corporate site location trends favoring mid-sized urban markets over mega-cities. Any economic development project that is going to create 50,000 jobs will end up in large urban market — likely one of the top-10 mega-cities in the United States, primarily based upon the availability of that many skilled workers. However, in the age of automation, there are simply no other economic development projects with that many workers; in fact, the days of the 10,000-worker factory are over. Corporate site location projects that comprise more than 500 jobs are on the high-end, and the location for most of these projects, in large part, is in growing mid-sized urban markets.
Growing mid-sized urban markets are succeeding in retaining and attracting high-wage jobs because they illustrate economic vitality through increasing population, stable demographics, strong private-sector job performance, a solid workforce pool, and a much lower cost of doing business compared to their mega-urban counterparts. This does not mean mega-urban centers (top 10 largest population centers in the U.S.— New York; Chicago; Los Angeles; Houston; Dallas-Fort Worth; Miami; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; Atlanta; and Boston) are not successful. These global cities offer massive consumer and business markets, leading global industry sectors, an urban renaissance, and connections to markets through unmatched airports. However, many companies are focused on the faster pace of growth, lower cost of doing business, and a workforce large enough to serve most company needs in a mid-sized urban center.
A data-driven corporate site location process illustrates that mid-sized urban markets compete well with the mega-cities across the United States. Our analysis of mid-sized urban markets compared to mega-city markets is based upon researching how much these markets are growing by population, macroeconomic and private-sector job growth, strength of the demographic profile, and the cost of doing business in a select group of mid-sized urban markets compared with the 10 largest mega-city regions in the U.S.
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