Hi All – sorry it’s been quieter than normal around here (today is the first partial day off I’ve had in weeks).
I wanted to quickly stop in and share a little something I found in my inbox this morning. It’s part of a weekly newsletter from CEOs for Cities and today’s touched on the importance of place when it comes to recruiting young, talented people to a city or region.
Last week, Rustwire posted a crushing letter by the owner of a growing business who lamented his inability to recruit young talent to the “unpleasant” and “visually unattractive” sprawling suburb where it is located.
His message, while harsh and at times downright flinching, offers this important insight:
“We’d like to stay, but we have a problem. It’s not taxes or regulations. There’s lots of talk about these issues but they have no impact on our business. We spend more on copiers and toner than we do on state taxes. Our problem is access to talent.”
“There’s a simple reason why many people don’t want to live here: it’s an unpleasant place because most of it is visually unattractive and because it is lacking in quality living options other than tract suburbia. Some might call this poor “quality of life.” A better term might be poor “quality of place.””
…People with talent don’t have to live anywhere. They can pick and choose. And increasingly there are better, more attractive choices. When you are up against harsh winters or, in this case, a legacy of bad planning, you have to work even harder on Quality of Place.
That requires leadership.
This short snippet, and the idea of quality of place, really stuck with me. It made me a little more mindful of how place greatly impacts how a city develops and whether or not it will prosper. I think in part it also sat with me because of the past (and some present) out-migration of young people from the province and the city. It’s a trend that has slowed, but it does still happen and we need to be mindful of ways to keep talent here in the long run.
Now, obviously, Regina is different from Michigan (where this business owner is from). But the issue of providing quality living options is important and spans all cities. At present, a lot of housing is tied up in single family detached homes with little real aesthetic value and most new development still happens on the fringe. As Regina grows and changes, we need to plan and build for more variety – housing types, sizes, and prices – as well as focus on quality design. It goes hand in hand with increasing walkability and revitalizing downtowns, and is essential for attracting young talented students and professionals, as well as accommodating small families and seniors who want to age in place (and anyone else who isn’t looking to buy a house in the ‘burbs for that matter). Hopefully through the development of the Official Community Plan these issues will be addressed and local developers will start steping up to meet these needs.
The other thing that sat with me from reading this little excerpt was the idea that when a place can seem a little inhospitable (i.e. harsh winters) it takes more effort to create quality of place and draw people in. Regina, and Saskatchewan does decently in this regard (in particular with social interaction and community), but it’s something to be mindful of. How can we, as citizens and leaders, make active choices that will improve quality of place – both in the physical forms that we create, but also the communities and connections that we build with our neighbours? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
Ok – this post is already waaaay longer than I’d planned. I just needed to share those few thoughts. Now I have to get back to work here – I’ll try to post more regularly soon.
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