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Commentary: Metros With Solid Prime Workforces Garner Significant Investment

Small and medium-sized metros with a pipeline of educated workers at a competitive cost are attracting companies looking for long-term growth.

Q4 2023
The leading metros ranking aligns closely with many of the U.S. locations that the CBRE location strategy consulting team sees rising to the top of our clients’ shortlists for active site selection requirements. Our clients on the office-side are seeking to identify net new locations for hiring that will position them as an “employer of choice” with the ability to attract and retain a market’s top talent.

The process for evaluating potential new locations typically seeks to optimize between three areas: talent supply and quality, talent cost, and the local competitive environment. Metrics in each of these categories are evaluated to understand not just today’s market conditions but also its historical performance and likely future trajectory to ensure long-term sustainability for our clients.

The U.S. locations that tend to perform best are small to medium metros with robust university talent pipelines and above-average population growth driven by in-migration. Markets with a balanced competitive environment as measured by turnover rates, job posting volume, and wage inflation also perform best in that they pose less talent attraction and retention risk for our clients over the longer term.

Some of the top-ranked metros in Area Development’s report that we also see appearing frequently on the shortlist for office clients include places such as Salt Lake City-Provo, UT; Missoula, MT; Tampa, FL; Jacksonville, FL; Phoenix, AZ; and Charleston, SC (among others). While these locations have many differences, they’re similar in that they are all growing geographies with an educated workforce that is generally not oversaturated by competition, and they present talent cost savings opportunities, especially versus gateway coastal markets. On top of these factors, these locations also boast high quality of place and unique local character, which is attractive for clients looking to promote the relocation of employees from existing offices to their newly opened locations.

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