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From Site Selection magazine, July 2020

‘Wonderful in Their Own Ways’ Doesn’t Keep Businesses in Town

Mark Arend


Wrapping up this issue in recent days, I found myself reviewing the article on remote working while working remotely. Irony aside, it’s a goldmine of information on the topic, full of insights you’ll want to discuss with your peers as you plan reopening offices and other facilities. And it’s one of eight features in this issue written to help make sense of a business world few could envision just a few months ago.

Locations from rural communities to major cities are scrambling to help their businesses cope with shifting workforce dynamics, access to employment and other resources and declining revenues. Places like Charlevoix, Michigan, that depend on tourism dollars are bracing for a long, quiet summer (see The Rural Advantage, page 97). Businesses … well, you know better than we do the toll this pandemic is taking on once-thriving commercial enterprises. But we are confident you will find in these pages the perspectives and insights to help navigate the logistics, supply chain, human resources and other challenges now before you.

How some locations will move forward, pandemic aside, remains to be seen. Certain cities have an additional burden to bear as companies plan exit strategies from what they consider to be hostile environments.

“I’m moving my business headquarters off the West Coast,” wrote Peter Rex, founder and CEO of Rex Teams, a tech, investment and real-estate firm, in The Wall Street Journal on June 29th. “We tried San Francisco. We tried the Seattle area. Both were wonderful in their own ways, especially in natural beauty and personal friendships. But both have become hostile to the principles and policies that enable people to live abundantly in the broadest sense.

“That’s why my company is in the final stages of purchasing office space in Austin, Texas,” wrote Rex. “By the end of the year, I hope to move dozens of employees to the Lone Star State and to be ready to hire hundreds more. While uprooting a big part of a billion-dollar company isn’t easy, the decision to move to Texas wasn’t hard. Our staff and their families will be able to flourish to a much greater extent.”

How many others are doing the same?

Technology and other companies were already planning to decentralize from major cities for reasons unrelated to COVID-19 or the recent downtown statue-toppling craze. “Even if just 10% to 15% of tech employment relocates in five to 10 years to a different spot, that will have a huge impact on the tech geography of the nation,” notes Mark Muro, senior fellow at The Brookings Institution in Ron Starner’s Remote Work article.

Location-wise, there will be winners and losers in the years ahead. We look forward to helping you discern the winners.

Till next time,
Mark Arend, Editor in Chief

Mark Arend
Editor Emeritus of Site Selection magazine

Mark Arend

Mark Arend is editor emeritus of Site Selection, and previously served as editor in chief from 2001 to 2023. Prior to joining the editorial staff in 1997, he worked for 10 years in New York City at Wall Street Computer Review, ABA Banking Journal and Global Investment Technology. Mark graduated from the University of Hartford (Conn.) in 1985 and lives near Atlanta, Georgia.


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