New report shows how companies can improve racial equity, sustainability and return on investment by locating closer to workers

by | Sep 20, 2021

By Steven Litt, cleveland.com

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Team NEO and the Fund for Our Economic Future are taking fresh aim at a vexing social and economic problem caused by job sprawl — the tendency of companies to locate new facilities in rural or suburban job hubs far from urban workers who need employment.

A new report completed by the nonprofit economic development organizations outlines a new quantitative method to measure the costs and benefits of competing industrial sites by showing how firms can measure and take into account access to transit, talent, racial equity, and environmental sustainability.

Such data could be added to traditional site selection criteria such as time, risk and money, to help companies choose locations for plants in Northeast Ohio that provide a stronger return on investment while providing jobs for communities that need them.

“We are seeing more and more companies coming up with diversity, equity and inclusion, and social responsibility strategies,” said Bryce Sylvester, director of site strategies at Team NEO. “But we’re not seeing those strategies playing out in the site selection process.”

Job sprawl has added to persistent urban poverty in Northeast Ohio, plus the challenges faced by suburban or rural industries located beyond reasonable commutes from cities.

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