Affordability Drives Growth

We’ve been saying for some time now that providing affordable housing opportunities for the workforce is critical to the region’s ability to attract and retain businesses. But now you don’t have to take our word for it – you can hear it firsthand from an employer.

Recently Andrew Florance, chief executive of CoStar Group, penned an article for the Washington Post describing the location search for his company’s expansion including a new data research hub and an additional 700 jobs. CoStar is a real estate data firm headquartered in Washington, DC. Three conditions drove his decision on where to locate:

  • Proximity to top-notch local colleges to recruit a quality workforce;
  • Housing affordability for his employees given the salary range of these new positions;
  • A location with access to public transit, or conducive to biking or walking as he realized that younger workers choose jobs that do not require a car to get to work.

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In the end, this chief executive chose Richmond for his company’s expansion.

Like other CEOs who have identified quality of life as a top business priority to attract talent, Mr. Florance predicted that:

“housing costs in Washington, New York, San Francisco and other gateway cities will begin pushing more companies to do the same and consider smaller cities. In Washington, he said he expects the problem to continue worsening because only 0.6 housing units are being added for every new household — something the mayor is desperately trying to combat. I think cities with super-high housing costs are going to see companies looking around at secondary and tertiary cities until something happens with those costs.”

Will our region heed the warnings and act before its too late?