Location matters: New job hubs report highlights importance of holistic approach to site analysis

by | Sep 18, 2021

Research advocates for inclusion of talent, equity and sustainability metrics in decision making

CLEVELAND—September 18, 2021—A new job hubs report jointly released today by the Fund for Our Economic Future and Team NEO examines the importance of location to businesses as they look to expand amid the country’s robust economic growth following COVID-19 disruptions and spurred by an influx of billions of federal recovery dollars.

More than 850,000 jobs were added in June 2021, bringing the unemployment rate to 5.9%. The U.S. economy grew 6.5% in the second quarter of 2021 and growth is expected to continue.
“Northeast Ohio finds itself at an inflection point,” said Bethia Burke, president of the Fund, a nonprofit alliance dedicated to advancing economic growth and increased access to opportunity for the region’s people through improved job creation, job preparation and job access.

“Business leaders are scrambling for talent and are dedicating increased attention to racial equity and climate change. While we know that economic inequalities tend to worsen during times of economic recovery, this report’s findings highlight that we can help meet our objectives while changing the historical narrative. We must take intentional steps to do so now.”

The report, titled “Where matters,” proposes that existing decision-making tools and practices do not fully capture the costs or opportunities of sites available for business development. It advocates for considerations of talent, equity and sustainability to be evaluated and built into the analysis in addition to the traditional factors related to time, risk and cost.

“Location analysis is experiencing a major transformation,” said Bill Koehler, CEO of Team NEO, a business and economic development organization focused on accelerating economic growth and job creation throughout the region. “By incorporating these additional factors, businesses get a more comprehensive picture of all costs – both direct and indirect – associated with a business location selection and can make a better, more informed decision.”

Both organizations have long been proponents of job hubs, areas of concentrated economic activity in a region with high levels of traded-sector jobs, multiple traded-sector employers and alignment with local development partners as well as civic priorities and economic development opportunities.

“Supporting business growth around a thoughtfully identified and competitive job hub lays the foundation for an economy that is attractive for businesses to grow, efficient for citizens to access, fiscally prudent and environmentally responsible,” added Koehler.

The report’s analysis used work data derived from publicly available sources to compile talent, equity and sustainability metrics, such as the number of workers within a 30-minute drive or public transit commute, Black and Latinx workers within a 30-minute car commute and the estimated daily greenhouse gas emissions per customer, for five Northeast Ohio development scenarios ranging from a rural greenfield to a transit-connected job hub. Other factors related to infrastructure and quality of life, such as existing infrastructure utilization, proximity to nearest interstate as well as walk and bike scores, were also tallied.

“Our latest findings are consistent with our past research on job hubs as well as mobility innovations,” said Burke. “A site’s location can lead to dramatically different results in access to talent and a diverse workforce, and connections to transit infrastructure expand not only the size but also the racial diversity of the labor pool.”

Building off these findings, Kohler shared that the goal is to develop a more inclusive site analysis tool that can be used by a broad set of stakeholders including companies, developers, workforce agencies, and others.

“We intend to develop a tool that can give a more complete picture – for the good of individual businesses and the region,” he said. “Considerations of talent, equity and sustainability belong in the decision rubric.”

The “Where matters” report, which was conducted with support from the Lincoln Institute for Policy Land Research and a Holmes Fellow from the Case Western Research University Weatherhead School of Management, concludes with insights and action items for stakeholders ranging from corporate executives to utility companies. It can be accessed by visiting jobhubsneo.org.


About the Fund for Our Economic Future
The Fund for Our Economic Future is an alliance of foundations, corporations, universities, business and civic associations, government entities, and individuals dedicated to advancing economic growth and increased access to opportunity for the people of Northeast Ohio through improved job creation, job preparation and job access. Learn more at www.thefundneo.org.

About Team NEO
Team NEO is a private, nonprofit economic development organization accelerating business growth and job creation throughout the 18 counties of the Northeast Ohio Region. As the designated JobsOhio Network Partner, we align and amplify local economic development efforts in the region’s 18 counties; we conduct research and data analysis to inform local conversations and influence solutions; we market the Northeast Ohio Region; and we work to increase access to jobs, education and training for the region’s 4.3 million people. We do this to build a more vibrant regional economy – one that is more talented, equitable, competitive, innovative, resilient and prosperous. For more information, visit teamneo.org.

Media Contact:

Sara McCarthy
Fund for Our Economic Future