Trendspotting: Corporate HQ Location Choices in a Recovering Market
Pent-up demand will result in more headquarters projects in the next decade, but these modern, right-sized workspaces will differ in size and design from those of the past.
Eric Stavriotis, Senior Vice President, CBRE, Inc. (April 2012)

As the economy exits the recession and continues on its recovery, corporate headquarters (HQ) projects are still attractive as ever to economic developers. But has the financial crisis forever changed the corporate site selection process? Our answer: perhaps it's changed, but it certainly hasn't gone away. There are a series of factors - some traditional, some new - impacting how many companies are establishing or relocating their headquarters. Let's explore the outlook for HQ projects and the factors driving the decision to relocate or renovate what some refer to as a metaphorical corporate "mother ship."

HQ Demand Drivers
What are the main factors driving the location of a corporate headquarters in today's market? Many traditional criteria remain in place, including:


Closer examination of today's business climate reveals several additional economic and cultural trends that are becoming increasingly relevant when choosing a corporate headquarters location.

Negative Demand Drivers for New HQ Projects
The following emerging trends reduce demand for new corporate headquarters space, despite their positive economic contribution to economic trends as a whole:



Positive Demand Drivers for New HQ Projects
The following emerging trends increase demand for new corporate headquarters space, and have driven significant deal-making in urban areas and use of economic incentives:


Analysis: Overall Outlook for HQ Activity
In the 2011 Area Development Corporate Survey, 25 percent of respondents stated that the sluggish economy had forced them to put expansion on hold. However, when the U.S. economy improves, the high-performing companies that are acting today will gain advantages over their peers, especially in the race to attract and retain talent.

According to PwC's 14th Annual Global CEO Survey, innovation "has gained prominence among global chief executives' strategic priorities as a means of boosting revenues and reducing costs." Additionally, CEOs said they are "just as likely to focus on innovation to achieve growth as on exploiting existing markets," signaling innovation in the workplace driving productivity and attracting talent.

We expect to see more HQ projects in the next decade due to pent-up demand. But these modern, right-sized workspaces will be significantly different in size and design, when compared to their 1980s predecessors.


head•quar•ters [hed-kwawr-terz]
noun:the location where central business decisions are made; the top tier of the corporate structure that takes responsibility for the success of organizational strategy and governance. - Business School Definition

head•quar•ters [hed-kwawr-terz]
noun: the most sought after of all project types, capturing headlines, anchoring trophy real estate projects, and often garnering hefty incentive awards. Compared to manufacturing, R&D, or data centers, headquarters are major mile markers for the economic development efforts of states, cities, and towns. - The "Real World" of Corporate Site Selection