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New Smart Growth America report details why so many companies are moving downtown

Launched at a terrific event at Washington, DC’s Newseum just this morning, Core Values, a first-of-its-kind report, is stuffed with useful data on nearly 500 companies that have decided to either move from the suburbs to a downtown location, or that have decided to expand or open a new branch in a downtown core.

The companies featured in the report — highlighted by quotes from more than 40 interviews with executives — shared some unifying threads in their decision-making process: the desire to take advantage of the collaborative and cultural opportunities that downtown locations offer, the desire to stay competitive for younger, talented workers, and the ability to give their employees multiple transportation options for getting to work each day.

It’s a trend that we’ve been keeping our eyes on in this space over the last year, like our story about State Farm’s decision to consolidate their employees in three new regional hubs near transit, the ambitious plans of three mid-sized cities that focus on transit as a core economic development strategy, or Marriott’s clear intention to move their headquarters to a location near to transit when their current lease is up.

Smart Growth America takes these stories to a new level, pairing that sort of anecdotal data above with some hard research and in-depth interviews of company executives into one comprehensive report on the trend; showing why companies are making the move and providing recommendations for other companies hoping to do the same — or cities hoping to lure them in.

As Chris Zimmerman wrote today on the SGA blog:

Core Values CoverIn 2010, global biotechnology company Biogen moved its offices from downtown Cambridge, MA, to a large suburban campus in Weston, 25 minutes away. In 2014, less than four years later, the company moved back.

“There is so much going on in Cambridge,” said Chris Barr, Biogen’s Associate Director of Community Relations. “It is such a vibrant place to live and work—it’s been a great move back for us.”

Biogen is one of hundreds of companies across the United States that have moved to and invested in walkable downtowns over the past five years. Our newest research takes a closer look at this emerging trend.

Core Values: Why American Companies are Moving Downtown is a new report released today by Smart Growth America in partnership with Cushman & Wakefield and the George Washington University School of Business’ Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis. The new report examines nearly 500 companies that moved to or expanded in walkable downtowns between 2010 and 2015, and includes interviews with more than 40 senior-level staff at those companies.

The results provide an overview of why these companies chose a walkable downtown and what they looked for when considering a new location. The report also includes ideas for cities about how they can create the kinds of places these companies seek.

View the report