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Thread: What businesses have communities attracted to become desirable communities?

  1. #1
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    What businesses have communities attracted to become desirable communities?

    I think the communities that have attracted businesses that require both blue collar and white collar jobs have been able to turn into desirable communities. The more of each type of job makes the city's economy better and the more job opportunities for college educated helps too.

    Some businesses and places I can think of are:

    Businesses:
    Large four-year education universities, hospitals, law firms, engineering and architecture firms, technology based companies, and environmental based companies.

    Places:
    Historical buildings and natural landmarks.

    Now, I find some of those businesses haven't located in certain communities because there is a lack of people wanting to move to certain communities. For instance, many cities and towns in the Central Valley rely heavily on farming, shopping centers, and small amounts of blue collared jobs because the flat scenery, hotter weather, and built up downtowns deter people that have an education and work in white collar jobs from working there. Since these communities have these issues, they are struggling in the economy since most of the middle class blue collar jobs have been cut.

    Anyways, I was just thinking about this. Maybe this a city planning approach to thinking about certain communities in California.

    Also, I heard shopping malls are bad for downtowns and communities as they draw people away from downtowns and take away character. Would this also mean that open air malls are bad for downtowns and communities? Can their be any benefit for a community besides the fact if a community didn't have a downtown.

    I read this about lifestyle centers: http://retailtrafficmag.com/news/lif...sons_05172010/
    It sounds like lifestyle centers or open-air malls are hurting as bad as enclosed malls. I think that malls are bad idea. I think like the article mentioned that we can fix our enclosed malls, but
    building new open-air or enclosed malls is not working. I think that the big box centers and mix-used centers in downtowns are doing best.
    Last edited by urban19; 25 Dec 2010 at 11:08 PM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    There are some hard and fast rules for retail, which I won't get into here, because they're pretty extensive and probably more appropriately the subject of their own thread - or more likely, their own blog. Rem Koolhaas' book on the subject is as good a place to start as any, I think.. or a few hours on the Jerde Partnership's very extensive website, looking at their case studies (since they have a virtual monopoly on retail shopping center design, these days). Commercial office clusters are exceedingly difficult to inculcate, and also follow strict clustering and formal design rules. In both cases, attraction factors do have place-based and quality-of-experience dimensions to them.

    Tech and manufacturing industry clusters in the US tend to locate, in my experience, (almost solely) to places that have the most ample trained/appropriately educated workers, at the lowest possible cost in terms of wages, with the lowest possible cost of land, and with the most competitive package of regulatory/government sweeteners (usually in terms of subsidized and expedited land procurement and approvals, environmental forbearance and tax incentives). Those sweeteners have come to be expected/demanded by any such business. There is also an advantage to places that already have a good balance of industries in the targeted sector (cluster effects). Supply chain location advantages don't seeem to matter that much anymore, provided that there is sufficient access of some type (e.g., a steel mill no longer has to be proxmal to a coal mine.. or at least, there is less benefit to be derived from immediate proximity than in the past, but everybody needs access to an airport).

    The present manufacturing boomlette in the US seems to be coming from a combination of (a) Federal and state "buy American" guidelines for public spending (stimulus funds can, with some exceptions, only be used to procure high domestic content inputs), (b) increasing wages and less competitive labor terms abroad, particularly in China (especially in light of the recent strikes action and union activity there) combined with the increasing perception that lower US land-costs and even looser environmental controls, in some cases, make up for higher wages, and (c) growing fears over future/rising protectionism.

    I personally think that too much has been made of the specific "place/experience" and aesthetic requirements of high tech industry location choice. Unfortunately, a suburban "campus" with a vast parking lot around it, a la Sorrento Valley/Scripps Mesa or Sand Hill Road, seems to work just as well as a TOD, a la University Park, in practice. Rents frankly aren't that different for either typology.
    Last edited by Cismontane; 04 Jan 2011 at 10:33 AM.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by urban19 View post
    I think the communities that have attracted businesses that require both blue collar and white collar jobs have been able to turn into desirable communities. The more of each type of job makes the city's economy better and the more job opportunities for college educated helps too.
    It sounds like in the first part you are describing Detroit, however right now I would not exactly call Detroit desirable to most americans. What will happen if the economic rug gets pulled out from under you? You're being far too simplistic.

    Cistmonte makes a good point about costs. With the sweeteners you can build such a location, but if someone offers a sweeter deal you're in a world of hurt. A lot of the states have become very savy with getting some of what we see as our business. We still are able to compete in producing some parts and providing engineering, but not the whole enchilada.

    Any mall you build will impact the malls or CBDs close to it. This is why we have so many Dead Malls and CDBs in this country. We have more space devoted to selling than we need. There has also been a fundemental shift in how stores operate that have made multi-story stores less efficient than single level ones. This is why you only see multi story stores going in where they have to do it. This shift has left even more square feet of retail abandoned in favor of the mega-marts.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Cyburbian
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    One question for urban would be why CAHSR's entire business plan seems to revolve around creating new housing the Central Valley, commuting those people into the existing cities, to create new jobs there. Seems irrational and grossly optimistic. Wouldn't it be better to have a coherent new town industrial developments strategy at the Central Valley CAHSR hubs - similar to the rationale the Chinese used for their HSR investments.. taking advantage of cheaper land and cheaper wages in the valley itself? Half-baked thinking, as usual from that lot.

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    One question for urban would be why CAHSR's entire business plan seems to revolve around creating new housing the Central Valley, commuting those people into the existing cities, to create new jobs there. Seems irrational and grossly optimistic. Wouldn't it be better to have a coherent new town industrial developments strategy at the Central Valley CAHSR hubs - similar to the rationale the Chinese used for their HSR investments.. taking advantage of cheaper land and cheaper wages in the valley itself? Half-baked thinking, as usual from that lot.
    Have you been to the southern San Joaquin? Hot, arid, little infra, hot, arid, hot, no Delta breeze, hot, arid...

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    Have you been to the southern San Joaquin? Hot, arid, little infra, hot, arid, hot, no Delta breeze, hot, arid...
    All the more reason why they shouldn't count on 400,000 new homes there (what the CAHSR plan seems to call for). Globalized manufacturers and the like, on the hunt for cheap land and cheaper wages, would care about such adverse conditions a lot less than sprawlville homeowners who would have the option to be elsewhere, I presume...

  7. #7
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    All the more reason why they shouldn't count on 400,000 new homes there (what the CAHSR plan seems to call for). Globalized manufacturers and the like, on the hunt for cheap land and cheaper wages, would care about such adverse conditions a lot less than sprawlville homeowners who would have the option to be elsewhere, I presume...
    I haven't scrutinized the plan, but at perfunctory reading it was very unrealistic AFAICT. I don't know whether the pols told them what to write or what, but I just don't see it. IMHO the window closed 15-20 years ago, now its too late. Capital costs too high and the state is past its carrying capacity of humans anyway. Not to mention the state's finances were ruined and it can't educate its kids to any decent standard.

    Says the person who loves the state but got the heck outta there...

  8. #8
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I'm not sure I can provide answers to the central question of what kinds of businesses to attract, but I do feel it important to raise the issue of making sure communities don't view an outsider company/business as a panacea that will swoop in and save a town from financial ruin. It rarely works that way and one example to look at is Walmart which in some rural areas were seen initially as a great thing providing jobs and affordable goods. The flip side, however, has to do with local businesses going under, a large percentage of profit made at any given store leaving the community, and a hiring structure that keeps wages and hours low (in some cases below the requirement to provide health coverage with the intention from Walmart, as revealed by store managers, to push employees to get on state insurance for low income folks).

    I'm not trying to be a naysayer here, but just caution too much faith put in outside saviors. The issue of money leaving the community can be a particularly strong one. The Rocky Mountain Institute has some interesting things to say about the "leaky bucket" theory - essentially that the more money made by businesses that remain in the community, the more trips each dollar makes locally and the more people it directly benefits. With a company based out of state, a good deal of profit leaves the area and, even with the provision of wages to local workers, this can still mean a net loss. In fact, if it weren't (that is, if the company doesn't make more money than it pays employees), it would never have located there to begin with. There is value to having a strong local economy, even if it is not particularly wealthy.

    All that being said, many communities perform an audit of community assets and use that as a base for both building up local potentials (cultural or historical tourism, for example) and to identify skill sets and other resources that could strategically attract companies that can best benefit from those assets/skills. I would say that should be the first step in the development of any economic development plan - an audit of community assets.

    An example of how this could work would be Pittsburgh which turned its high incidence of respiratory illnesses (and developing expertise in this area as they tried to deal with so many sick people) into a national specialization, even after their air was cleaned up. Similarly, there are many firms there that specialize in building with steel and glass, even though they do not manufacture those materials in Pittsburgh anymore. It was a strategy that also helped keep key knowledge bases in the city.

    Another example, which I have mentioned before is the story of Tierra Amarilla, a rural community in northern New Mexico. They built on local traditions of sheep herding, yarn spinning and weaving to create a small, cooperative industry that helped stem outmigration. The whole story is in a book called "Rural Environmental Planning for Sustainable Communities"
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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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