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Why companies are setting up offices in these 10 midsize U.S. cities

Moving or expanding to these cities can deliver strong value for your growing company

The booming business environment and economy can be felt far beyond Seattle, San Francisco, and New York. Yes, we’re also talking about you too, Austin. If you’re from Austin, you can relax, as this is not another list with you at the top. The golden age of big, flashy cities driving growth and gobbling up workers is waning. Businesses (and the people they hope to employ) are flocking to mid-sized cities in higher numbers for a host of reasons. The best places for medium and large business (MLB) expansion are the often-overshadowed “secondary cities,” especially when you factor in real estate costs, favorable tax codes and incentives, and an increasing pool of potential hires. A tight recruiting market driven by record-low employment is encouraging businesses and their future employees to consider the benefits of place. “Place” can be an influential factor, especially when it reduces the cost of doing business and offers a better work-life balance. Here are our ten best places for MLB expansion and the people who work there.

1. Provo, Utah

Utah’s Ogden to Provo corridor, including Salt Lake City and Lehi, has become a top place to do business. Giants such as Adobe, Microsoft, eBay, and Qualtrics call it home. Provo is #1 in job growth according to Forbes’ 2018 Best Places for Business and Careers ranking. It’s been a longtime hub for innovation in engineering, healthcare, and tech, and now, increasingly for industries such as banking, transportation, and manufacturing. Tech accounts for 10% of Provo’s workforce and much of its job growth, so much so it’s been nicknamed Silicon Slopes. It’s also number ten on WalletHub’s most educated cities list. The Wasatch Mountains provide a stunning setting as well as abundant nature and an outdoor lifestyle that appeals to many – young, old, and everyone in between.

WeWork has two locations in Salt Lake City/Lehi.

2. Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

Occupying the #2 spot on Forbes’ 2018 ranking for Best Places for Business and Careers, is Raleigh-Durham (#2). The Research Triangle, of which Raleigh-Durham forms two-thirds, is a hub for finance and professional services. Surrounded by universities, it’s no wonder this region has an educated workforce (occupying the #4 spot on WalletHub’s list). World-class STEM research universities fuel its progress, primarily in tech and biotech. Companies such as Cisco, GSK, Lenovo, and IBM call The Triangle home. However, it’s not all about work. Raleigh is fast becoming a tourist destination, with bluegrass, beautiful oak trees, temperate weather, and a restaurant scene that would impress even the most discerning foodie.

WeWork has three locations in Raleigh-Durham

3. Fort Collins, Colorado

Manufacturing and R&D are fueling Fort Collins’ growth, alongside clean energy, bioscience, and agri-tech. With a strong thread of entrepreneurship, many local businesses have become national powerhouses, like New Belgium Brewery. Colorado’s business climate is healthy, with giants like Google moving into Colorado’s Front Range. Add enviable weather across four seasons and tons of natural beauty that make for an excellent work-life balance, and this small town has all the ingredients for a boom. Fort Collins also enjoys a burgeoning housing market, in part fueled by Denver’s and Boulder’s rising prices. With Colorado State University calling it home, close to 50% of the population has a college degree. CSU’s research reputation and facilities are a big reason why high-tech companies such as HP and Intel have relocated here in recent years.

Just 1.5 hours away, Denver has 10 WeWork locations.

4. Orlando, Florida

Tourism and construction, yes, but did you know that Orlando is a center for film, television and electronic gaming? The central Florida city also boasts growing tech and aerospace industries, and its star has been rising in the startup sector. The factors that make it an excellent environment for new business (low cost of office space, job growth) are also attractive to growth-minded MLBs. People have been moving here at three times the national average, and it’s no mystery why. With white-sand beaches, four seasons of summer, and 233 days of sunshine a year, it’s easy to see why people choose to work and play here.

WeWork just announced a location for Orlando in the Sun Trust Center.

5. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

A former center for steel manufacturing and a symbol of United States industrial prowess, this Rust-Belt city has also been the poster-child for its decline. However, this city is undergoing a massive evolution with the recent surge in artificial intelligence and robotics innovation, drawing from drawing from research and talent coming out of Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh. Uber recently moved their self-driving cars division here. Despite the real estate boom here, housing prices are still affordable, especially in contrast with high-tech’s other darling cities, which is a big attraction for younger workers. Built on bridges (446, in fact), this pedestrian- and bike-friendly town also has a thriving arts scene. It’s only natural that Pittsburgh found itself #8 on Livability’s 2019 Top Places to Live.

Stay tuned for news on WeWork Pittsburgh – coming soon.

6. Indianapolis, Indiana

This midwestern city is not just a destination for car racing and basketball. Indy is also a town with a diversified economy spanning from tourism to education, finance, and healthcare, to name a few. A hub for education, with no less than six area colleges and universities, Indianapolis boasts a young, educated workforce. To this deep talent pool, add in a cost of living that is below the national average, and you get all the right ingredients for businesses and their workers to thrive. Indiana garners consistent recognition for its low cost of doing business. Salesforce, Eli Lilly, and Anthem all have operations in Indianapolis.

Coming soon – WeWork in Indianapolis.

7. Columbus, Ohio

Located in Central Ohio, this mid-sized city’s reputation is on the rise for both its business-friendly environment and  quality of life for millennial workers. Columbus has a young, educated workforce, thanks to its flagship university, Ohio State, and has been welcoming a healthy influx of new transplants over the past decade. Home to one of the largest midwestern venture capital firms, Drive Capital, Columbus’ tech sector is gaining steam. Its dark horse status was recently brought into the light by landing on Amazon’s shortlist of 20 HQ2 finalist cities and winning the U.S. Transportation Department’s “smart cities” challenge grant

WeWork has one location in Columbus.

8. St. Louis, Missouri

If you had to describe St. Louis in one word, it would be momentum. The city is on the ascent in part because of a commitment to redefining itself as a city that inspires, supports, and sustains startups. This evolution feels natural for a city with strong roots as a center for 19th- and 20th-century innovation. Shipping, biotech, and agri-tech all have a sound footing here, and the startup sector is sure to be an asset to other industries. St. Louis is also a perhaps unsurprising contender for the first Hyperloop, a project that would connect it to Kansas City in a quick 25-minutes.

WeWork is coming soon to St. Louis.

9. San Antonio, Texas

This Lone Star city is thriving, mostly under the radar unlike its attention-seeking, capital-city neighbor to the north. Military and defense, construction, finance, start-ups, healthcare, government, and yes, tech, are significant growth drivers here. USAA, G2S, Valero, and Frost Bank all operate out of San Antonio. With its business-friendly environment, and a plethora of culture, festivities, entertainment, and historical sights, the city is one of the fastest-growing in the country. The cost of living is less than the national average, and San Antonio’s median home price is 29% lower than the national median. Take that, Austin!

WeWork is coming soon to San Antonio.

10. Phoenix, Arizona

Telecommunications, high-tech, tourism, and military and defense are big business for the Valley of the Sun. A host of international companies have opened up offices in Phoenix in recent years. With a young workforce, lower housing costs, and more affordable quality of life, companies such as Uber and Yelp now call Phoenix home. Nikola Motor Company, an electric vehicle manufacturer, is slated to open up over 2,000 jobs in Phoenix over the next five years. Companies that were founded here also continue to grow, one example being the marketing-technology company, Infusionsoft.

WeWork has four locations in the greater Phoenix area.

Cultural Shift Towards Long-Term Sustainability

In the article for Inc. referenced above, John Boitnott interviewed the co-founder of the growing mattress seller, Tuft & Needle, to get his take on why they chose Phoenix. When the founders envisioned the next phase of their business, they wanted to move away from a Silicon Valley culture that valued short-term gambling. Instead, they opted to invest in a mid-sized city where future employees are looking for roles where they can contribute over the long haul. Perhaps Tuft & Needle’s founders touched on the biggest reason we see this shift the global powerhouse cities to smaller, intentionally reimagined cities. Businesses and the people they employ have more choices. Many are using the power of choice to live in and invest in these cities for a host of reasons that contribute to better lives and more sustainable growth. It’s a shift, hopefully, towards creating better work cultures across the board. 

Looking for a flexible office solution for your medium, large, or enterprise business in one or many of these cities? Talk to us today!