Any region’s ability to generate, retain and attract the best talent is a competitive advantage in today’s economy. In the past, workers chose where to live based on where businesses were located, but now it’s often the opposite: a critical mass of talented workers can attract firms. Cities and regions across the country are in fierce competition to attract talented workers and reap the economic benefits of new businesses, and in that effort smart growth development is key.
Investing in smart growth is one of the best ways for a region to attract educated, talented workers. Young professionals demand opportunities for social interaction, high quality schools and parks, lively commercial districts, an abundance of cultural amenities, and transportation options, including convenient public transportation. Smart growth includes all of these things and more.
Sprawling development, on the other hand, can deteriorate workers’ quality of life. In some of the fastest growing metropolitan areas, companies slowed down their business expansion plans or opted to move elsewhere because traffic congestion and declining quality of life stifled downtowns and worker productivity. For example, Hewlett Packard halted its planned expansion in Atlanta’s Perimeter Center area, according to the report, because it did not want to subject 1,000 new employees to the area’s serious traffic problems. And in Atlanta in 1998, Hewlett-Packard delayed plans to build a second 20-story tower for some 1,700 workers because the metropolitan region had a mobility crisis. Workers were faced with the furthest commutes on average in the country, unpredictable traffic, and a poor public transportation network. Worsening air quality threatened regulatory gridlock and added costly burdens on business.