What makes a city good for business?

Good for the goose, good for the gander. When it comes to business, where you choose to set up shop has a lot to do with the offerings of the overall community. So, what makes a city good for business and what kind of plans can you implement to help boost the marketability of your community’s business environment?

Turns out that when it comes to the business of economic development, there are several factors that make a city appealing versus appalling. Of course, these factors change based on the types of businesses and demographics your community wants to attract. This article will focus mainly on the start-up—the tech-savvy, digital-first, millennial dream. These businesses aren’t going to appeal to every generation or every city, they are an acquired taste and they come with acquired tastes. These companies are doing business in very different ways—flexible workweeks, collaborative office spaces and change-the-world values.

Cities that Start Up

According to a 2018 Fortune.com article, the top five U.S. cities for business start-ups are Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Austin, Texas, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Missoula, Montana, and Durham, North Carolina. The factors that went into determining these ratings included the average length of a workweek, average growth in revenue, five-year business survival rate, prevalence of investors, cost of living, office space affordability and corporate taxes. Business.org also shared an article about the top cities for entrepreneurs and start-ups. Similarly, it looked at factors such as income versus rent and local employment levels, as well as the percentage of young adult dwellers (classified as 25-34), residents with higher education and start-up surges. The top five cities on this list were; San Francisco, California, Austin, Texas, Minneapolis, Minnesota, San Jose, California and Columbus, Ohio.

In looking at the results of both articles, you’ll notice that there isn’t one region that’s winning when it comes to appealing to the start-up community. In fact, a few years ago quite a few of these cities wouldn’t have made it on any list, let alone in the top tier. However, there was a concerted effort to develop around the needs of start-ups and evaluate growth opportunities for these communities.

Build Your City for Business

So, what does all this mean for your city and how can you make your community more marketable for start-ups and business in general? Of course, location comes into play, but many of the aforementioned cities have “fly-over state” reputations, which means location, though important, is not the end-all, be-all for economic success.

Plan Ahead

Once you get past the idea that location is everything, it’s time to start thinking smart for smarter growth. Many cities that are reaping the rewards and seeing businesses grow have made it a point to plan for change, adopt a strategic approach and think environmentally. When it comes to the future, one thing is for certain, change will happen. As a city, being prepared for change and understanding the geopolitical trends happening now can better prepare you for the future.

Be Efficient

With a smart plan in place, show your community that you are looking to be more efficient and collaborative so that there is opportunity to do more with less. Some ideas from a McKinsey article include securing all revenues due, exploring investment partnerships, embracing technology, making organizational changes that eliminate overlapping roles and managing expenses.

Make Friends

Plans? Check. Efficiencies? Check. Now that you have good ideas in place, it’s time to get community members on board. Establish a team of community change-makers who will help champion your efforts. Also, focus on creating a positive culture within leadership where there’s a strong level of trust as well as enthusiasm to do good. Lastly, work with stakeholders to find a middle ground where everyone sees the change as positive.

By following these steps, you are building a city for future business. It may not happen overnight, but you are laying the groundwork, showing that you are committed to a direction and focused on creating a community that has the start-up mentality of working hard and getting things done.