The Future of Cities is in the Present

Nov 12, 2021 | Mid-Point

The redistribution of talent post-pandemic has created several new opportunities for cities to market themselves differently, with an eye on attracting workers. While the traditional economic development tactics have focused on business relocation, the strategy has shifted to instead compete for people and the workforce of tomorrow.

City leaders are looking to attract the “micro-talent” — the people who are already employed, but looking for a new place to settle down. As many employers have opened up to the idea of distributed work, the flexibility for workers to choose where they live based on factors other than the location of a physical office. In order for cities to take this future-focused approach, they will need to change the playbook to build out social and physical infrastructure to attract and retain remote workers — things like co-working spaces, restaurants, parks, and high-speed broadband connectivity.

Winning the talent competition won’t be easy, so cities should give themselves the best chance for success with forward-thinking and creative investments in quality of life, connectivity, and talent networks to foster community. Already, places like Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Indianapolis have developed high concentrations of tech innovation; it’s time for more Middle American cities to rise to the challenge and push the nation into a new era of shared economic prosperity.

Read more about city evolution in this edition of The Mid-Point.

Inside this issue

  • Selling cities: The Rise of Municipal Marketing
  • The 5 Cities Ready to Build With Remote Workers in Mind
  • From Garden Streets to Bike Highways: Four Ideas for Post-Covid Cities
  • The Next Phase of Remote Work Will Be Even More Disruptive
  • Career Opportunities in Your Dream Destination: Join Our List

The post-pandemic workforce reshuffling has given cities and towns a new opportunity to market themselves with glitzy ad campaigns and worker recruiting trips, putting a new spin on the conventional municipal economic development playbook. But instead of trying to attract big companies with tax incentives to bring a new headquarters or manufacturing plant to town, city leaders are looking for the “micro-talent” — the individual who already has a job somewhere else but is looking for a better place to live. Read More.

In August, the co-living company Common requested proposals from U.S. cities that wanted to host a “Remote Work Hub” — a kind of office-plus-apartment complex aimed at young digital nomads. Common is betting long on remote work, trusting that the employment style will survive, and that the cities poised to rebound economically will do so by absorbing the perpetual-WFH crowd.

This week the company announced five winners of this quasi-competition. The five cities vary widely in geography, population and cultural vibe. But what they share is a lower cost of living, an interest in diversifying their employment mix, and a tendency to slip under the radar in many of the current conversations about the post-Covid future of cities. Read More.

As the pandemic wreaks havoc on existing structures, what is the vision for cities, and how will they hold up? Four architecture firms share their visions of what cities should do now, to better design everything from offices to streets to transport.

Two architecture studios are collaborating to propose a digitally enabled high street, which could improve accessibility, reduce food waste, and even track what people spend to better enable a local circular economy. Wifi accessibility could help remote or nomadic workers stay connected outside of an office environment. Plus, monitoring traffic and footfall could help people avoid busy times, while air-quality data would help those with vulnerable immune systems. Read More.

Adam Ozimek, a labor economist at the freelancing platform Upwork, shares his vision for remote work. He argues that the next phase of remote work will transform economies, as more companies revise their policies to accommodate employees who permanently WFH, and more workers move to places they’ve always wanted to live but couldn’t.

He predicts that remote-first startups will figure out new ways of working asynchronously, making fully-remote work more manageable than the version we use today. And he expects economic geography to shift in big ways, with workers free to live wherever they want to—from hometowns to ski towns—instead of wherever they work. Read More.

How would you like to live in a city rich in food, music, and lively culture, like Nashville? Or are you dreaming of living in a ski town, like Denver or Salt Lake City? From mountains to beaches, the options of where to live and work are endless.

Whether it’s opening doors to career opportunities or helping you choose the best city for your needs, we can help. Join our list to be the first to hear about job opportunities in your dream city, or get in touch with us.

One America Works is

a non-profit building a vision of the future where high-growth technology companies find the talent they need to grow and succeed in cities across America. Want to know more? Reach out to us at hello@oneamericaworks.org.