What sets your city apart from others? Pinpointing the answer to that question is key to drawing the right kind of business and talent to your community. Place marketing is a strategy many cities are using to attract investors and lure everyone from college graduates and entrepreneurs to CEOs and Fortune 500 companies.
Every city has its own unique set of assets, aesthetics, values, demographics, cultures and opportunities, writes economist Steven Pedigo in a recent Inc. magazine article. For companies, business owners and entrepreneurs, what ultimately attracts them to a particular city is finding the place matches their personal values as well as the values of their brand.
Just as businesses influence the economic competitiveness and prosperity of cities, cities can also make or break the growth and success of businesses. Pedigo points to several catalysts for this, including:
•Industry clusters: Companies in similar industries tend to cluster in similar places — and this creates a synergy that allows them to collaborate, influence local policy investments, share specialized training programs and partner with service providers.
•Talent attraction: With the right opportunities and amenities, cities can be a magnet for talented workers and draw a younger, more diverse population.
•Access to capital: Cities that offer pro-business funding and financial resources are much more likely to attract a strong entrepreneurial and innovative core of companies.
•Anchor institutions: The more hospitals, colleges and universities in a city, the better the workforce and the higher the level of innovation and business development due to research and technology initiatives.
•Quality of life: Just because a city is good for the bottom line doesn’t make it appealing. It’s the intangibles — everything from atmosphere and camaraderie to cultural and recreational assets — that make it a place where businesses want to invest and bring their employees to.
Quality of place can be subjective. Some business leaders and professionals may place more emphasis on education, affluence, and arts and culture, while others may care more about recreation, walkability and low cost of living. Different assets resonate differently with different companies, but one thing is for certain: No matter how good a city looks on paper, it’s the spirit and personality of a place that sticks, writes brand marketing expert Jim Walton in a recent blog.
People are drawn to places where they can visualize themselves living and working and doing it better than anywhere else, Walton says. Cities that give them a glimpse into the heart and soul of the community, its people and the je ne sais quoi that makes it different and desirable are the ones that will ultimately capture their interest and investment.
For more on quality of place as an economic development strategy and how it can drive investment, download our white paper, The Case for Place.