About a year ago the Site Selection Guild named Tucson among 11 mid-sized cities that likely would see a lot of new locations or expansion projects this year as companies recover from the COVID-19 disruption.
Now, site selection consultants in the guild’s latest survey of post-COVID-19 predictions say companies aren’t counting out big cities for location decisions.
The June survey says companies will follow the workforce they need, and that workforce is migrating to “high-value locations,” according to a Site Selection Guild press release. “Rising vaccination rates and decreased COVID-19 infections will spur a rebound in downtown recovery, tourism and other industries centered on service and social interaction.”
So what gives?
Mid-City vs. Big-City
In the midst of summer epidemics in New York and other big cities, companies rightly reassessed what would work best for employees and business. Site selectors saw physical distancing, an outdoorsy lifestyle and less reliance on public transit as reasons why suburbs, mid-sized cities and even rural areas were preferable to cities with at least 1 million residents.
Those areas seemed ideal places where spread of the virus could be slowed if not stopped. Today’s a different landscape as daily cases of hospitalizations and deaths are much lower than at the height of the pandemic and virus protection rises. And it turns out that companies do like big cities if it feels they are medically safe.
“Today’s findings underscore the role of the pandemic in accelerating existing trends,” says Site Selection Guild Chairman Chris Lloyd, “while also debunking other popular claims that have arisen, including the demise of big cities.”
At Commercial Real Estate Group of Tucson, I doubt this switch in sentiment about big cities will affect Tucson and its post-pandemic recovery. While the Arizona city has about 550,000 residents, the greater metropolitan area has slightly over 1 million.
Best of Both Worlds
As the economic hub of Southern Arizona, it provides big-city amenities along with advantages found in mid-sized cities and surrounding suburbs. Essentially, I see the best of both worlds here.
The University of Arizona is a top-ranked research institution that spins out cutting-edge high-tech products and services, including in the hot bio/life sciences industry.
There’s plenty of Tucson industrial space and land for the hot manufacturing industry, as well as the distribution and logistics infrastructure to support the return of domestic supply chains.
Tucson’s nearness to Mexico—less than 85 miles—only strengthens the distribution ecosystem. The multi-modal Port of Tucson provides rail and road access to West Coast ports, as well as all parts of the U.S.
A wide variety of Tucson office space provides choices for companies that are reducing their square footage in response to uncertain staffing and hybrid work models. These include very small spaces for mini-office locations and central space in urban and suburban settings.
Our local economic development organization, Sun Corridor Inc., has done its own research into what companies might want from a place like Tucson. Its Pivot Playbook aims to meet those needs and actively pursue companies.
Site selectors have their pulse on the factors that drive location decisions. Despite the flip on what environment will allow companies to thrive post-pandemic, Tucson is in a good position to meet demands.
Let’s talk about your options. Contact me for an immediate, complimentary consultation by phone, email or teleconference, +1-299-3400.