News

Small- to mid-size communities becoming talent magnets

Coronavirus continues to play a significant role in our personal and professional lives. With more companies requiring employees to work from home to help decrease the spread and infection rate of COVID-19, many companies are questioning if these employees will need to be physically in the office in the future. The result of more people working from home than ever before is that more people are looking to relocate from urban, high-density environments to the open, low-cost living of our rural communities.

Beginning around 2016, the top criteria for expansion location was workforce. Many communities served by Alliant Energy could not keep up with the job demands, let alone a new industrial company looking for hundreds of employees. Local economic development organizations and chambers of commerce were tasked with the difficult question of where a company would find 100, even 500 new employees in a market with sub 4% unemployment.

With more professionals leaving the urban environment, rural communities will once again have ample access to an educated and full workforce population that can satisfy both existing and future industrial and commercial employers. A recent article in CNN Business reported that signed contracts of condos and co-ops in Manhattan plunged nearly 60% in July, while contracts for single family homes in areas outside of New York skyrocketed. Norfolk County outside of Boston saw a 38% increase in new contracts for single family homes in July and Marin County outside of San Francisco saw a 77% increase over last year.

Nearly 40% of adults living in urban areas indicated they would consider moving “out of populated areas and towards rural areas,” according to a recent survey of 2,050 adults nationwide conducted by the Harris poll. “As ripe breeding grounds of coronavirus, dense cities now have a new challenge in keeping their residents, many of whom had already begun to find rapidly rising rents and job market changes less appealing,” US News reports.

Whether it is for a quality of life upgrade, a lower cost of living or the need for a larger home to accommodate the new remote work environment, people are moving to rural America in large numbers. The next thing to come: a surge in employment opportunities from business expansions and relocations who continue their search for top talent.

Sources: “Survey: Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, Urbanites Are Eyeing the Suburbs and These people have left big cities for good. Here’s where they landed