In this article for Site Selection Magazine, BLS & Co. Managing Director Tracey Hyatt Bosman provides insights on how quality of life is an important factor for companies exploring location options. Read more below.
What does quality of life mean in 2023? Is the definition the same as it was 10 years ago? How important is it to companies exploring location options? According to several top site consultants contacted for this article, it means much the same as it always has in some respects. But some important parts of the landscape have shifted too. On this they agree: Attracting talent is — or should be — as or more important to locations than attracting companies.
“Historically, quality of life meant the quality of life for the executive team,” says Tracey Hyatt Bosman, managing director at Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Co. “It was about golf courses, executive housing and top-ranking school districts. Today, quality of life is about the community’s offering for the larger work population. This started when companies began focusing on the Millennial generation but has continued and broadened to be about attracting and retaining talent. Today it is about outdoor recreation opportunities, a sense of place — particularly in the downtown area — a reasonable cost of living, vibrancy, walkability and ‘cool factor.’ Clients are also looking to check the basic boxes, such as positive population growth, low crime rates and safe neighborhoods, a good education system (private and public), and (at least in urban areas) a good public transportation network.”
Didi Caldwell, president and founding principal, Global Location Strategies: “Quality of life for our projects, which are industrial in nature, has always been part of the consideration but lower down on the weighting scale. You have to talk through all of the technical requirements, and then you look at quality of life and whether it gives one location an edge over another that is equal in all other ways. It’s more of a tiebreaker. For the kinds of projects, we work on, that is still the case. But workforce has become much more important and has a heavier weight.
“Today,” adds Caldwell, “people are moving to places to live with the assumption that they will be able to find a job. Economic developers need to have more than one focus. I’m not saying they should forget about recruiting the company, but they need to spend at least as much time thinking about how to attract talent. When we are looking at communities, we want to know what the economic developers or communities are doing to improve their quality of life and proactively recruit people to their location.”
Quality of Place
The consultants agree that quality of life is more important today than in the past.
“It’s definitely more important and for a broader cross-section of projects because the competition for labor is so intense,” says Tracey Hyatt Bosman. “Companies want to take every opportunity to position themselves to be able to attract and retain talent. In the past, quality of life was a topic reserved primarily for headquarters and R&D searches. In 2023 it doesn’t matter if it’s food production, auto parts manufacturing, renewable energy generation or biologics. Virtually everyone is thinking about the quality of life of the proposed locations.”