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Critical Location Decision Factor #4: “Connected” Locations Support Innovative Companies

Locations offering a robust telecom infrastructure — with adequate speed, choices, and bandwidth — are becoming hotbeds for technology development and entrepreneurship.

Mark Crawford (Q4 / Fall 2013)
This series examines the top-10 site selection factors as decided by the respondents to AD's Q1 Corporate Executive Survey. Labor costs, skills, and a nonunion environment are top of mind; highway access is key; and tax rates and exemptions deserve close scrutiny. Find out what else your company should consider when making its next location/expansion decision.

Information and communications technology (ICT) is all about connectivity and speed — telecommunications and wireless, Internet capability, fiberoptic networks, back-up systems, and the integrated software that makes it all run smoothly together. U.S. companies are doing more business globally, so it is more important than ever to have advanced ICT systems in place that can handle all business needs, including the transmission of big data. Perhaps more important than the technology itself, cities that invest in advanced ICT services are showing a commitment to the future that companies find attractive.

Most high-tech companies have needs for advanced ICT services to increase the speed of delivery of their products and services. Location consultants agree that ICT is an especially important factor for companies that are pursuing a data center or shared-services type of facility. Telecommunications infrastructure, including multiple carriers and redundancy, are critical issues for these types of projects. Speed, choices, and bandwidth can impact a region’s competitiveness when trying to attract and grow these facilities.

Places like Austin and Salt Lake City/Provo have done a great job of attracting these types of projects. Therefore, it’s no surprise that these two locations are consistently ranked among the top cities for technology development and entrepreneurship. Austin, for example, was ranked as the second-best hotspot for technology start-ups by Payscale.com in 2012 and was ranked fifth among major cities as a technology market by Jones Lang LaSalle in 2012.

Ultra–High-Speed Offerings
Google Fiber has announced it will enter both the Austin and Provo markets — attracted by the high-caliber ICT infrastructure that can handle its ultra high-speed gigabit Internet offerings. Only a few cities have the fiberoptic networks that Google Fiber or other gigabit Internet services require.

Atlanta is also well known for its ICT infrastructure, which supports a booming health IT industry. Seven top Atlanta-based health-related IT companies generate nearly $4 billion in revenue every year. In terms of overall technology, Atlanta is among the fastest-growing high-tech metro areas in the country, with 13,000 technology companies employing more than 260,000 people. This kind of rapid cluster development is only possible with a top-notch ICT infrastructure. Two of the country’s largest fiberoptic routes — north/south and east/west — cross in metro Atlanta, placing the city in the top-five U.S. markets for total bandwidth and fiber access.

Technology continues to support all of our businesses and availability of advanced ICT services stays top of mind with many corporations when considering relocation. Brett Hunsaker, Executive Vice President, Regional Managing Director, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank This kind of robust cluster growth and ICT support continue to attract new business development to the city. For example, Athenahealth, a provider of cloud-based services for electronic health records, practice management, and care coordination, will undertake a $10.8 million expansion in Atlanta.

In addition, PointClear Solutions, a leading healthcare software development provider, recently announced plans to relocate its corporate headquarters to Atlanta.

“We made the decision to move our corporate headquarters to Atlanta due to the large footprint of health IT companies and the breadth of academic and technology resources it offers,” noted David Karabinos, CEO of PointClear.
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