Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Narratives And Migration

A good story drives migration. The truthiness of the tale isn't important. If a large number of people buy in, then game on:

One factor driving the trend toward downtown and away from suburban markets is what Cushman & Wakefield calls a "reverse migration" that has large organizations moving back to downtown cores.

"There is also a desire to attract and retain the top talent that is increasingly moving in to urban centres, and increasingly looking to work, live, and play in the city," it said.

I'm not convinced that moving an office downtown will win the war for talent. What I think is irrelevant. Firms are leaving suburban Canada for the urban core. At some point, businesses remaining in the suburbs will be at a real disadvantage. Innovative workers are more vital than inexpensive real estate. Toiling in the burbs is for losers.

Go ahead and dig up the numbers. The suburbs aren't dying! Your story has already sunk.


BrianTH said...

It seems younger people are increasingly interested in shorter and/or non-driving commutes. To maximize your ability to accommodate such preferences, it makes sense to locate your place of employment at a major central node in the local road and transit network, and that typically includes (and in fact may be limited to) the local "downtown".

I don't think that necessarily means the end of suburbs as employment centers, but I do think they need to be evolving along the lines of satellite cities, including becoming centralized nodes in local transit networks servicing close-by residential areas.

Allen said...

"I'm not convinced that moving an office downtown will win the war for talent."

I don't blame you. Companies need to be able to attract and hold on to their talent to be able to thrive. Most of the people I've worked with over the years on different contracts consider working downtown as a negative.

Are there some things like they like about it? Sure. But overall they'd rather not take a job downtown is they didn't feel they needed to.

And yes, I've known a few people that prefer to work downtown. All of them have lived in nice neighborhoods in the central city. But when one looks at where the population growth in pure numbers, not percentages, the growth in population is still occurring in the suburbs. For example, in 3 years just one suburb of Denver, Brighton, added over 15,000 people. Wonderful downtown Denver took over a decade to add the same number of people.

Matthew hall said...

Follow the money on this. It is cheaper for local govn't to maintain higher density development leaving more tax money for other purposes. Businesses aren't moving to more central locations to attract talent, they are doing it because it reduces their total costs. Cities are offering incentives ande clusters of certain industries are emerging in downtowns. The workers follow. Downtown's emerged in the past because they were economically more efficient. They are reemerging for the same reason. Globalization is forcing every greater demands for reducing costs and downtowns do that when the total costs to business AND local govn't are taken into account. This isn't a fad, it is central cities learning to do what professional class suburbs have done for decades.