The Mile High City is just one example of how fierce competition in major global cities has boosted the appeal of smaller, talent-rich cities like Denver, Stockholm, and Melbourne, which are punching above their weight in terms of attracting companies, according to JLL’s Innovation Geographies Report, which analyzed more than100 cities worldwide.
“These types of cities tend to outperform with stronger economic growth and rents,” says Carol Hodgson, JLL’s Senior Director of Global Research. “Structurally, they are better prepared for what’s coming in the future.”
The research looked beyond how innovative a city is in big tech, life sciences, and advanced manufacturing and dug into the human side.
Amy Guttman, Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation marketing and brand strategy director, asked herself the same question when she was hired three years ago to build a business brand for the Metro Denver region.
The Frontier Effect
Part of Denver’s draw is on companies who have a focus on incredible talent with people-centric initiatives around social responsibility and quality of life. Marketing the fact that Colorado is the second most educated state in the country has always been a major selling point.
“We needed a deeper understanding of who our workforce was – not just their credentials,” Guttman says, noting that a LinkedIn study stated only 10% of companies look at higher education alone when hiring.
To answer that question, she asked: Why does talent choose Denver?
One reason that stood out was that people chose Denver because of the community. So, instead of just selling Denver’s talent to get companies to relocate, Metro EDC refocused on selling its lifestyle to attract talent.
What they came up with was the idea of the Elevation Effect. “We used the mountains as a metaphor for how Coloradans are wired as people: they dream big, are collaborative, and refuse to choose between a great career and great lifestyle,” Guttman says.
Denver’s lower cost of living and talent-rich community were major selling points that Foresight Diagnostics Founder and CEO Jake Chabon highlighted when he convinced investors to move his liquid biopsy laboratory operations from Silicon Valley to Colorado.
“There’s a lot more talent here. It was actually a lot easier to operationalize our R&D team here in terms of scientists and technicians,” Chabon said during an Adams County Regional Economic Partnership Site Selection Summit.
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