Emerging Economic Development Drivers

March 12, 2024
Posted by
Mark Shaaber

Community investors and developers consistently look at four economic factors when considering investing in a community, according to a recent study conducted by Chmura, an economic data science company.

The survey identified four emerging drivers that potential businesses are evaluating when determining whether to invest in a specific community. They are:

  • Speed to Market: Site selectors are interested in how quickly they can obtain permits and begin construction in a selected market. Delays cost money and speed to market can translate to a competitive advantage.
  • Quality of Life: This driver has recently moved much closer to the top of the list for employers. They want to know that the community will be appealing (think curb appeal, amenities, safety) to their current employees as well as serve as a vehicle for employee attraction and retention.
  • Availability and Affordability of Childcare: Is there enough childcare available and will it be affordable for their employees.
  • Availability of Affordable housing: Average cost of buying a home and/or rent is a key component when comparing one market to another.

It’s no surprise to see that affordable housing is among investor’s top evaluative criteria, but it is interesting to hear what some companies across the United States are doing to attempt to solve their housing challenges. Those include:

  • Revamping their benefits packages to include down payment assistance (and rental assistance) for employees.
  • Developing their own housing communities. Essentially, creating “company towns” with subsidized housing and restrictions to prevent flipping.

Additionally, many communities are embarking on the following programs to drive economic development:

  • Developing land banks
  • Utilizing federal, state and local tax credits for housing development
  • Being more flexible in zoning restrictions (i.e. elimination of single-family zoning, allowing duplex growth and thereby creating more density)
  • Purchasing development rights from current homeowners. This allows the owner to live in the home until passing and then the community assumes ownership.
  • Communities are releasing industrial park space that would be dedicated to affordable housing projects.

Much can be learned from watching these national trends. One thing that is crystal clear is that affordable housing has become a significant problem for every potential investor, employer and economic development team.

Visit Chmura’s site to explore their case studies and research projects:

About Partnership Grand Strand
Partnership Grand Strand is a 501c3 foundation launched in 2022 by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce to fund a five-year economic and community development initiative. Through investments from local businesses and partnerships with community organizations, the foundation leads and supports efforts related to four pillars of success: prosperity, talent, place and infrastructure. Through their focused endeavors, Partnership Grand Strand works to accelerate economic prosperity and enhance quality of life across Horry and Georgetown counties. 
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