Be Cool, Or Young Workers Want a Certain Kind of City

If ever there was any doubt about that cities need to be “cool,” this article from the Boston Globe should erase it. The article notes that young workers are pushing companies to locate in cities, rather than suburbs:

“When you’re a start-up business, recruitment and retention are your top priorities,” said David Patrick, 55, chief executive of three-year-old Apperian, which makes software for mobile applications. “Location matters. In the 1980s, when you wanted to work and raise a family, you went to the suburbs and that’s where most tech workers wanted to be. But today the demographics are changing, and many people want to work, live, and even raise families in the city.”

The lesson here is twofold (at least). First, the shift back toward cities is real. People want to live in urban centers — or at least places that feel like urban centers — and that shift is changing the American landscape.

Second, workers determine where companies set down roots. If a company wants young, educated workers, it goes to the cities in which those people want to live. So, in other words, cities looking to attract business should make themselves into the kinds of places young workers want to live. Part of that is having jobs, but it also includes having a robust urban infrastructure with things like good public transit, walkability, restaurants, nightlife, etc. In other words, being cool.

Provo is definitely moving in the right direction, but like other articles this Boston Globe piece indicates that cities need to take a holistic approach to growth and revitalization. A successful city doesn’t just create economic growth out of nothing, in other words, it instead becomes a “cool” place that can incubate growth.


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Filed under Development, Downtown, economics

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