Locate in the city or the suburbs?

March 2, 2011
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When you decide where to locate your business, do you prefer hanging around other businesses like yours? If you do, a new study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and DePaul University may be of interest.

The survey of new census data from 11 cities across the country found thick concentrations of highly educated workers in central cities. Finance, the arts, health care, information, professionals, scientists, for instance. The suburbs were heavy on retail, construction, wholesaling and manufacturing jobs.

Indianapolis wasn’t among the 11 cities, but a Fed blog post about the study did praise us for growing during a decade when many Midwest cities stalled or lost population. Indianapolis grew 4.8 percent, which was slower than the 8.3-percent rate in the ’80s.

The blog reiterated the usual explanations for why white-collar workers cluster in cities—mostly to meet with each other and with clients. Likewise, most retailing and construction, wholesaling and retailing happen in the suburbs, so that’s where those businesses flock.

Would the same pattern have held in Indianapolis had we been included in the study? Here, lots of tech firms are in Hamilton County. So are lots of lawyers and financial types.

To the broader question, do you feel you need to be in a certain part of the Indianapolis area for your business to thrive? A hallmark of the area, a birthright almost, is quick access via a good interstate system. One can be just about anywhere within a half-hour unless it’s drive time.

Your thoughts?

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  • Commercial Real Estate
    I cant agree with this study more. Being in commercial real estate i have seen a major shift of office space moveing to the city. It seems most white collar office workers want to be close to a coffee shop or some where they can grab a quick lunch. This day in age of the now generation i have noticed a mind set of efficiency.
  • Downtown
    I, for one, would really like to see more businesses locating in our downtown rather than in the sprawl of the suburbs. One benefit is that being centrally located gives access to a greater customer base. Further, investment in downtown will improve the overall climate of our city, which will result in more population growth (especially in the core city, which is where we need mroe growth - not in the suburbs) and more customers and clients. And just imagine what our downtown would look like if all the midrise and highrise office buildings spread across the region were located in downtown.

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