Rural communities are prime targets for companies considering a corporate site location project. Rural areas in the U.S. cover 97 % of the nation’s land area but contain 19.3 % of the population who are more likely to own a single family home, are older and less likely to hold a bachelor’s degree or be in poverty than their urban counters.
Private companies seeking a corporate site location see disadvantages and advantages in rural markets. In general, rural markets, compared to their urban and suburban counterparts, have slower overall economic growth, face the loss or slow growth of population driven by the failure to retain younger workers which is drives down rural bachelor degree rates. However, rural markets have the potential to benefit from their open spaces in a COVID 19 world, enjoy substantially lower real estate and wage rates, have long been a base for manufacturing companies, will benefit from the continued automation of manufacturing facilities as this will require fewer workers and mitigated the lack of rural population and are prime targets for companies seeking to locate facilities tied to energy intensive industries, and connecting their supply chain to domestic facilities.
Montrose Group recommends companies considering rural communities for corporate site location projects focus on addressing regional workforce challenges by building a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) to retain and attract skilled labor through industry base training programs with growth opportunities focused on technology and manufacturing companies through the development of IT and robotics workforce development programs, and rebuild rural Downtowns to create a neighborhood where young workers want to live, work and play through small business development focused on the development of business incubators that support the success of startup companies and historic preservation redevelopment financed through Downtown district programs, historic preservation tax credits, state grants, opportunity zone funds, and new market tax credits. Furthermore, rural markets should be strong targets for manufacturing companies considering energy intensive industry growth and domestic supply chain expansion, as well as a range of industries considering the growth of data centers all of which should prosper in a COVID 19 world through a traditional corporate site location and site development process that reviews potential markets for economic and demographic strengths, searches for available sites and negotiates options to lease or purchase, negotiates land use entitlements, infrastructure finance and economic development incentives.