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TRANSIT’S ROLE IN HIGH TECH ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

shutterstock 104477651 1The advertisement of Amazon searching for a new location for its headquarters has brought to the forefront the specific search criteria that the company is using to evaluate potential locations. In response to this advertisement, the New York Times wrote an article, "Dear Amazon, We Picked Your New Headquarters for You," applying their search criteria, including economic data, to estimate which city has the highest likelihood of being selected.

One specific criteria mentioned is the availability of mass transit. In their own words “An Amazon priority is mass transit, and it has asked applicants to provide their traffic congestion rankings during peak commuting hours. These remaining metro areas are among the top 15 in the country in the share of workers who commute by transit, according to the American Community Survey.”

clusters reportA reason for this request is likely because continued growth in technology-oriented businesses in urban locations will require increasing reliance on mass transit. This same point was pursued in a national report by EDR Group, called The Role of Transit in Support of High Growth Business Clusters in the U.S. The report examines the extent to which in technology-oriented business clusters already have, and will increasingly in the future, turn to bus and rail investment to support their growth. It describes how growth in these business sectors are enabled by “agglomerations economies” -- the ability of business firms to realize productivity gains because of greater access to pools of specialized workforce skills within larger labor markets. These insights are of strategic value as technology-oriented businesses are fast growing drivers of America’s economy, and cluster (agglomerate) in urban locations where they can best access research centers, information sharing, and a large, skilled workforce.

Transit is becoming the solution of choice for these businesses who require access to a skilled labor market because these cannot simply move to less crowded or congested locations without losing many of the productivity and competitiveness advantages of the cluster business environment. Given constraints on continued roadway system expansion (detailed in the case studies), there is a solid case for expanding the future role of public transportation to support growth of high tech business clusters.

The study by EDR Group focuses on eight high-growth knowledge-oriented business clusters and their transportation conditions in six US cities and finds that the degree of transit access could potentially affected by the year 2040 between 379,000 and 480,000 jobs, depending on steps taken to address the transportation capacity constraint.

Click on this link to learn more about why technology-led businesses are seeking locations with superior transit access to meet their site selection criteria, and communities can build upon transit access to sustain growth in technology-oriented businesses

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