Survey: Environmental Factors and Site Selection

Air-Quality-SurveyWe are asking corporate real estate managers, location consultants and economic developers to identify how air quality affects location decisions.


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As an incentive, all respondents completing this short survey will have an opportunity to win a $200 prepaid Visa card. All respondents will also have access to the final results.

We appreciate you taking 10-15 minutes to complete the survey by Monday, October 17, 2015. Results will be used in summary form only in order to protect confidentiality. Continue reading “Survey: Environmental Factors and Site Selection”

National Fourth Economy Community Index Lists Top Ten Large-Sized Counties


Fourth Economy Consulting announces the latest release of its national community index, listing top counties from across the nation. The Fourth Economy Index highlights those communities ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth within the fourth economy.

PITTSBURGH, PA – The latest edition of the Fourth Economy Community Index was announced today, recognizing the top ten large-sized Fourth Economy Communities. These communities—with populations between 150,000 and 499,999—were selected because they represent regions that are poised to achieve sustainable economic growth while attracting people and investment.

Continue reading “National Fourth Economy Community Index Lists Top Ten Large-Sized Counties”

3 Economic Development Trends that are Closer than they Appear

131022-Economic-Development-TrendsThe practice of economic development is like driving using only the side view mirrors – you can’t even see exactly where you’ve been, but you can see the edge of the path you’ve been taking.  We try to guide ourselves forward with tools that are built for where we’ve been. Part of this rear-view navigation results from using a lot of tools that were developed to fix the problems of the past.  But it is also because we have very little useful predictive information about the future.  The majority of economic data is old.  If we have any information about what happened even a month ago, it is somewhere between a guesstimate and an approximation of the actual conditions.  By the time we manage to collect and verify the best information we can get, it is still incomplete and its shelf-life is expired. makes a poster, “Economics:  The science of explaining tomorrow why the predictions you made yesterday didn’t come true today.”

So while we can’t do a very good of predicting where the economy is headed, there are some trends coming up in our side view mirrors that are closer than they appear, or already passing by. Continue reading “3 Economic Development Trends that are Closer than they Appear”

Where or What is Your “Third Place”?

The notion of the “Third Place” was first popularized by Ray Oldenburg in his 1991 book entitled, The Great Good PlaceOldenburg advanced the notion that a “First Place” refers to your home, the “Second Place” to your work location, and “Third Places” are those spaces or places outside of home and work that add value to your daily live-work experience.  They can include parks, pubs, recreation spots, main streets, and civic spaces where people can gather and interact.

Oldenburg wrote that Third Places “host the regular, voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings of individuals beyond the realms of home and work.”  Beyond that definition, I suggest Third Places can also encompass educational institutions, innovation system assets or other “go to” resources you appreciate, utilize and promote.

If you don’t know where or what your “Third Place” may be, imagine that potential new neighbor choosing between community A and B asks you, “What is so special about your community?” Your response is?

Continue reading “Where or What is Your “Third Place”?”

Four #Winning Tips for Attracting Investment

The Fourth Economy team has been busy with several planning and community evaluation projects. I find it very useful to step back for minute, take a few notes and share some observations. Here are four points that emerged from these recent projects to keep in mind if “winning” (attracting-retaining) new investment is a goal:

1) Remember the Human Element

Businesses are not robot-like monolithic entities (although we may feel at times some do qualify as such). They are people, working in a systematic approach to achieve common goals. The things that motivate each of us also influence business decisions. The human element applies to both physical connectivity (transit, parks, walking etc.) and social connectivity (social media, blogs, chats etc.). At our core, we are social beings – we like to share ideas, communicate, connect with others and move about a town. Facilitating these connections with smart infrastructure planning, amenities and through the use of social media encourages community building and civic engagement. Increasingly these factors are helping to attract new investment, making many communities more competitive.

2) Find Your Value

It’s not only about how much it costs to live and do business. It is about the value of a location. I have seen first hand businesses choose to invest in high-cost locations in order to ensure they have access to a qualified workforce, research support, quality infrastructure and customer base. Communities that can provide and promote high value resources, whether they take the form of a university research center, recreational amenities or existing industry network, can remain competitive despite a higher cost structure. This is especially true as companies become more technologically dependent, smaller and require less space.

3) Housing is Fundamental

Don’t confuse affordable housing with quality marketable housing. Without a solid and diverse housing stock (single family, condos, townhomes, apartments), it is very difficult to attract and retain a qualified and professional workforce. As a result, businesses may pass you by. Overall housing values, quality and availability are more important now to the potential buyer, renter or investor and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future, than the cost of housing alone. If your community has an older poor quality housing stock, take steps to reinvent, form public/private partnerships to prepare sites, rehab and reinvest.

4) Education – The New Natural Resource

The analogy = Talented people are to today’s businesses as coal was to the steel and railroad industry. Educational attainment levels as a percentage of the overall population continues to remain a top consideration in the modern investment decision process. If your community does not compare well in this category, it likely won’t change overnight. Look for concentrations of talent within your community or highlight the fact that you may be trending in the right direction. Promote any strategies you have in place to facilitate future change in this area.

We all know that competition for new business investment and residential base is fierce. It’s being played out on a global playing field. These four insights may serve as a reminder or a new tidbit of information to consider as part of a “winning” strategy development.