I can think of nothing more exciting than an empty lot being prepped for a new commercial building. It’s usually accompanied by wild speculation on what’s going in, which only builds the brewing anticipation. Of course, that thrill can be tapered if the lot is becoming, say, the sixth car lot in town versus that elusive steak restaurant that never seems to come — despite social media grumblings.
Needless to say, I don’t envy city planners and their task of controlling how their cities are going to develop while also balancing needs, especially as the list of needed assets to thrive in the digital age grows. However, cities across the U.S. of all sizes are raising up to meet these demands while courting new businesses and residents — particularly the younger millennial generation.
As noted by the Brookings Institute in its report, “The Millennial Generation: A Demographic Bridge to America’s Diverse Future,” the millennial generation “is the most diverse adult generation in American history.” Millennials have a reputation for being well-educated, entrepreneurial and tech-savvy. And as noted by writer Lauren Caggiano in her article this month, “There’s no magic bullet when it comes to cities attracting and retaining millennials.”
Still mayors are making an effort to be competitive. In her article, Caggiano highlights efforts being made in Columbia, S.C., and Chattanooga, Tenn., which have included quality of place improvements such as strengthening downtowns, bringing in plenty of entertainment and offering outdoor activities. Columbia has also launched an initiative aimed to help millennials clear hurdles to homeownership while Chattanooga has unrolled one of the fastest, cheapest and most pervasive internet services in the country.
No two cities will develop the same, but like Columbia and Chattanooga, most will be examining how they, too, can be more competitive. Perhaps the most prevalent measuring sticks for this at the moment are the 19 U.S. cities and one Canadian city that were named as the finalists for Amazon’s HQ2. While not every city or town can land an Amazon — with analysts, according to USA Today, stating the most successful city would need at least four million residents to reach the scale Amazon requires — they can still look at the offerings of these larger metro finalists and translate them into their own communities, particularly components such as affordable housing, reasonable cost of living, tech hubs that attract talented professionals, a focus on quality of life, to name a few.
And if you are interested in researching these finalists to see what they are doing, Toronto — the only Canadian city among the finalists —posted its entire 190-page Amazon HQ2 bid online, techvibes.com/2017/10/23/breaking-down-torontos-190-page-amazon-hq2-bid.
Within this issue of Th e Municipal, we will be looking in depth on building and construction. Articles include tree ordinances aimed at reducing the urban heat island effect, how cities are addressing the tiny house craze, saying yes or no to casinos and how municipality-owned internet is serving as an added incentive for businesses and residents to relocate within certain cities’ limits.
As always, we hope you find this issue to be informative.