In a groundbreaking research study conducted this summer, business leaders from cities of all sizes were asked about multiple factors relating to facilitating business success and how their current locations rated in terms of each of these factors. The survey went on to identify those factors that were of greatest importance to business leaders in deciding where they might want to relocate or add new offices.
The results were clear and unambiguous: midsize cities outperformed large cities in almost every measure of satisfaction.
Developed by Inc. Media and the PhD Resource Group, LLC and administered using the services of Qualtrics in conjunction with Texas Tech University and the Amarillo Economic Development Authority, the study sought to identify the factors business owners and senior decision-makers believed led to the potential success of their businesses.
Owners and leaders of businesses in midsize cities (defined as cities between 100,000 and 500,000 in population) were substantially more satisfied than their large-city counterparts. Whether it was quality of life, cost of living, access to universities and research centers, or the general promise of the business environment, midsize cities ranked considerably higher in terms of business owner and leader satisfaction.
Midsize cities were rated higher in access to universities and research facilities, outdoing their large city counterparts by 24 percent. Similarly, midsize cities were 18 percent for favorable in terms of cost of living, 13 percent more favorable in terms of a vibrant business community and 12 percent more favorable in terms of quality of life.
When broader categories were used, the results also favored satisfaction levels in midsize cities. When it came to access to resources, the midsize city satisfaction level was 27 percent higher than for big cities. In other specific areas, midsize businesses outperformed large cities as follows:
- 23 percent higher for costs and access
- 19 percent higher for overall costs
- 16 percent higher over a general business index
- 13 percent higher for environment
- 10 percent higher for lifestyle.
Once the midsize advantage was established, the respondents were then asked about the factors most important in contemplating a move to a new location.
Findings relating to these questions include:
- Average growth of business revenue was the single biggest metric in judging the business environment of a potential new location.
- Access to resources was extremely important to the respondents when contemplating a move to a new location. The top three factors, virtually tied across the top of the list were the number of job openings per number of civilians in the labor force and unemployment rate; working age population growth and; access to financing/total number of small business loans.
- Lifestyle factors mattered greatly to the respondents. For them, the single most important life-style related factor was the overall quality of life, which was the No. 1 factor (33 percent), followed by cost of living.
In the end, this study clearly demonstrates that choice of where to locate your business has been greatly broadened. With the big city advantage revealed as a myth, businesses can open their eyes to midsize cities and look to see which of those cities possess the business climate, the work/life balance and the kind of family-friendly atmosphere that support success in business and success in life.
The study then specifically focused on Amarillo as a prime example of a midsize city that offers tremendous business support, access to universities and research centers, access to capital and funding, a very low cost of living (and doing business), an educated and significant workforce, opportunities for outdoor activities and a work/life balance not often seen in large cities. While the study did not direct readers to consider moving their businesses to Amarillo, it certainly portrayed it as an option worth exploring.
To download the full white paper, Medium-Sized Cities Outshine Large Ones in Business Relocation Study, click here.