GEOGRAPHY IN THE NEWS:
This article from The Wall Street Journal looks at how a year of remote work for 50% of the workforce has changed where we live:
"This rapid reordering accelerates a trend that has been under way for years. And it doesn’t just change the dynamic between workers and companies. It is affecting the economic fates of cities and communities large and small, but especially smaller ones: They can now develop and build their economies based on remote workers and compete with the big-city business centers and West Coast high-tech meccas that have long dominated the employment landscape. Smaller metro areas such as Miami, Austin, Charlotte, Nashville and Denver enjoy a price advantage over more expensive cities like New York and San Francisco, and they are using it to attract newly mobile professionals. Smaller cities like Gilbert, Ariz., Boulder, Colo., Bentonville, Ark., and Tulsa, Okla., have joined the competition as well, some of them launching initiatives specifically designed to appeal to remote workers. And more rural communities including Bozeman, Mont., Jackson Hole, Wyo., Truckee, Calif., and New York’s Hudson Valley are becoming the nation’s new 'Zoom towns,' seeing their fortunes rise from the influx of new residents whose work relies on such digital tools. ... Such changes may begin to reverse the increasingly winner-take-all nature of America’s economic geography. In the decade and a half leading up to the Covid-19 pandemic, more than 90% of employment growth in America’s innovation economy was concentrated in just five coastal metro areas: San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, San Diego and Boston, according to the Brookings Institution. ... For cities, remote work changes the focus from luring companies with special deals to luring talent with services and amenities. Communities can invest precious tax dollars more wisely and cost-effectively on things like better schools and public services, parks and green spaces, safer streets, bike lanes and walkable neighborhoods. ...
"Over time, the competition for talent could shift to places that offer the best combination of quality of life, affordability and state-of-the-art ecosystems to support remote work. Before the pandemic, a number of communities developed strategic initiatives to attract newcomers—some aimed at high-tech workers but others open to anyone who commits to moving. Many include the lure of cash incentives, akin to the moving expenses paid by companies to new hires. The programs’ perks and requirements vary. 'Remote Tucson' offers $1,500 in cash and employment help for spouses; Hamilton, Ohio, covers up to $300 a month in student loans for nearly three years for recent graduates in science, math and tech fields; Savannah, Ga., reimburses $2,000 in moving expenses for new arrivals with three years’ experience in tech fields. 'Tulsa Remote,' established three years ago, pays remote workers who move from outside the city $10,000, plus access to affordable housing. (The costs are underwritten not by city hall but by a foundation.) ... To lure and support the growing ranks of remote workers, communities will need to build out more complete ecosystems for them to live, work and gather. First and foremost, that means ensuring adequate broadband connectivity. As the pandemic fades and people venture back outside, it will also mean ensuring the availability of abundant co-working spaces and “third spaces” such as cafes and restaurants, where remote workers can mingle and meet, and outdoor recreational spaces where they can go to recharge their mental batteries."
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