Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Stem the Brain Drain by Investing in Downtown

Good stuff from Mayor Slay's speech at last week's Business Celebration Luncheon:

A recent survey showed that more than 77% of Americans born after 1981 want to live and work in an urban core. A more recent survey says “walkability” adds value to real estate. It’s clear to all of us that sustainability is becoming a way of life.

Our City has a lot to offer business leaders of today and tomorrow—our inherent sustainability with a wide variety of uses packed into a dense, centrally located, walkable and bikable core, our diverse architectural and cultural environment, our strong and diverse business base, and our great universities—and the entrepreneurialism they foster.
The message is clear, young people want to be a part of an urban environment, and businesses that operate downtown have a distinct competitive advantage when it comes to recruiting. I don't think many of our business leaders fully grasp this concept. The law firms that have left downtown for Clayton in recent years are a prime example. The firms that have chosen to stay downtown will have the edge when it comes to recruiting summer associates.

At the very least, people need to understand that unless they want their own kids to move away after college, helping create a vibrant, active, exciting downtown is the best way to get them to stay.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Brian, you are absolutely right. It is clear that highly educated and highly engaged young professionals enjoy living and working downtown. There are plenty of stats to back that up. It is a story repeated continually throughout the country that this workforce will go where they want to live, work and play. If the region is ever going to grow and prosper, the business community needs to commit to the success of downtown. It is in their own best interest to do so - whether they choose to locate downtown or not. However, with all of the investment downtown and all of our success in the past ten years, it is the business community and business leaders who have lagged in meaningful support.

Businesses who want to compete for the young, professional workforce should consider moving downtown or at least having an office downtown. There are also practical advantages - like central location from the entire region, easy access via highways and public transport. There are growing amenities and services and, downtown is, by nature ""Green" I am anxiously awaiting for the first major business leader to step up and make the committment to put their business downtown. Their company will be better for it and so will the region - and others will follow.