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New Report Highlights National Trend: Corporations Are Investing Downtown

June 18th, 2015 by

Rendering of the new Panasonic North America headquarters in downtown Newark.

Rendering of the new Panasonic North America headquarters in downtown Newark. Panasonic is one of the corporations profiled in the new report.

A new report from Smart Growth America highlights the many advantages corporations across the country seek when they make a decision to relocate to or expand in a downtown. The report, Core Values: Why American Companies Are Moving Downtown, was prepared by the organization in partnership with Cushman & Wakefield and the George Washington University School of Business’s Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis.

Among the executives interviewed for the report was Jim Reilly, vice president of corporate communications at Panasonic North America, which in 2012 chose to build its new headquarters in downtown Newark. That year, New Jersey Future honored Panasonic North America’s chairman, Joseph Taylor, with its Cary Edwards Leadership Award.

The report provides national confirmation of a trend that New Jersey Future has been analyzing, documenting and advocating for since 2011. “The factors that draw any employer to a downtown location — great, walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods, easy access to transit, housing that’s affordable to workers of all incomes — are exactly the smart-growth strategies that have helped bring downtowns in New Jersey back to life, both for workers and for residents,” said New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach. “Current trends indicate that revitalization of these downtowns is what will drive economic growth in the state, and we’re delighted to see that a trend we championed here in New Jersey is also happening across the country.”

The Smart Growth America report examines both why these companies chose to move or expand downtown and what they sought when they were making their location decisions. Among the amenities most highly sought after were proximity to amenities such as dining, shopping and entertainment, and accessibility to a variety of transportation options. Great office space and a welcoming municipality were also influential factors in determining whether and where to make a move.

The report also includes recommendations for urban areas trying to attract corporations, including zoning updates to allow a mix of uses including a variety of retail and housing that’s affordable to all workers; and investment in “durable economic assets” like great public spaces and accessible transportation options.

“These companies chose a walkable downtown location to help them better compete for talent and resources,” said Geoff Anderson, president and chief executive officer of Smart Growth America. “That tells us two things: First, that creating these kinds of places is a crucial economic-development strategy for cities, and second, that companies that haven’t considered a walkable location may be at risk of falling behind.”
Almost 500 companies that have moved to or expanded in walkable downtowns over the past five years were surveyed, and interviews were conducted with 45 executives at those companies.

Download Core Values: Why American Companies Are Moving Downtown

Watch the recording of the report kickoff livestream 

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