By Mark Huey
Herald Tribune
January 8, 2018

Business executives and entrepreneurs looking to relocate their companies to greener pastures are increasingly making the prospective community’s quality of life a major — and even deciding — component of the decision-making process.

“Quality of life has become very important,” said Angela Grace, principal at Atlanta-based Blackshaw Partners. “If there are several competing locations, it can be the ultimate deciding issue at the end of the day. What is the differentiator? It’s the quality of life.”

In the past, a community’s quality of life was more of an afterthought for corporate relocation decisions, which have focused mostly on location and costs. That’s changing as corporate culture and workforce requirements become more central for companies. Certainly, the nuts and bolts of a deal are still driving forces. But, increasingly, when those are similar, community quality of life becomes the determining factor. And sometimes it so important it is one of the nuts and bolts.

“There are times when quality of life will be more important than the incentives,” Grace said, noting that it is not a majority of the time but is a growing trend.

A recent Land Policy Institute report found that quality of life such as “green infrastructure” — parks, trails, water, weather, etc. — are major elements in attracting the coveted demographic of 25- to 34-year-old people with college degrees who make up much of the creative class.

The importance of quality of life is growing in part because of the emphasis placed on life outside of work by the millennial generation, which is maturing and gaining influence on companies’ decisions. This suggests the trend may accelerate in coming years as that large generation exerts more clout.

The reality facing companies is that attracting and retaining talented millennials means that companies must consider what type of lifestyle their younger workers will enjoy.

So for both attracting companies and keeping companies that need a young, innovative workforce, a location’s quality of life is an essential consideration.