When companies evaluate potential locations for starting or expanding their operations, they typically consider factors including the costs to build or relocate in the area; risks associated with the site, such as regulatory or infrastructure issues; and the time required for acquisition and construction. But in a growing number of U.S. cities and regions, from Orlando to Indianapolis, policy makers are encouraging businesses to incorporate additional considerations into their decisions, including racial equity and climate change.
In northeast Ohio, a region that includes the legacy cities of Cleveland and Akron, two organizations have unveiled a mapping tool that allows companies to compare several potential locations based on equity and sustainability factors. With a premise similar to the Walk Score and Transit Score tools that assess neighborhood walkability and transit opportunities, the ESG to the Power of Place (ESGP) tool scores up to five locations across the northeast Ohio region on the total number of potential workers within a 30-minute car commute, total number of Black or Latinx workers within that same car commute, and emissions impact of the average commute to a potential site location.
The tool, created by the Fund for Our Economic Future and Team NEO with support from the Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Lincoln Institute, is part of an effort to tie regional economic development more closely to equity and sustainability.
“For years, the Fund has said how much place matters for equitable economic growth,” said Bethia Burke, president of the Fund for Our Economic Future, a network of philanthropic funders and civic leaders working to advance equitable economic growth in the region. “This tool will help businesses and site selectors compare location options in ways that can have meaningful implications for both individual corporate strategies and broader regional outcomes.”