Economic benefits of knowledge workers: New Economy knowledge workers - Part 2

Knowledge workers have an economic benefit in rural and urban communities.

The New Economy is driven by “knowledge workers”. The attraction of knowledge workers to both rural and urban areas has economic and social benefits to the communities these workers live and work in. The local and regional economies benefit because businesses and industries are attracted to places where there are knowledge workers. Business that expand or businesses that relocate to new communities want to be in places that have assets or amenities that will be attractive to the knowledge workers currently employed work by their company and places that will allow businesses to attract new knowledge workers.

Businesses are attracted to communities that have variety of housing choices (i.e. missing middle housing), multi-model transportation systems, and both small and/or large cultural, recreation, and entertainment venues and destinations. “Missing middle housing is a range of multi-unit or cluster hosing types compatible in scale with single-family homes that help meet the growing demand for walkable urban living.” Housing types such as duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes, courtyard apartments, bungalow courts, townhouses, multiplexes and live/work housing.

Good schools and public safety are definitely strong bonuses, and should not be overlooked as an asset for retaining or attracting knowledge workers. The Land Institute of Land Policy research findings in the Regenerating American’s Legacy Cities stated:

“People in the age group 25 to 34 years old increased population in Baltimore, Pittsburg and Philadelphia, and had the potential to stabilize the population loss in these cities. Unfortunately, there was a significant increase in the out-migration of people in the 35-39 year old age group suggesting “In-migrants may not see urban living as a long-term choice, or may be deterred from making that choice as they enter their child-rearing years because of perceived problems with school quality and public safety”.”

Not all knowledge workers want to work for someone, and many have the entrepreneurial spirit. They are looking for places with business incubators that support innovation and technology. Innovators and entrepreneurs can definitely benefit from business incubators. Business incubators is “a unique and highly flexible combination of business development processes, infrastructure and people designed to nurture new and small businesses by helping them to survive and grow through the difficult and vulnerable early stages of development."

An example of a unique business incubator and accelerator is TechTown Detroit, which is Detroit’s entrepreneurial hub that supports both tech and neighborhood small businesses. TechTown Detroit is unique because of the intentional commitment to develop and implement diversity and inclusionary practices. TechTown Detroit named Marlin Williams as its first entrepreneur-in-residence for diversity and inclusion. “Williams will work with the business incubator and accelerator, throughout Detroit’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, to establish dedicated resources and more intentional strategies to increase engagement of women and minority entrepreneurs”.

In conclusion: What type of places are knowledge workers looking for?

  • Quality Places to live, work and play.
  • Active/dynamic living environment with lots of fun: Entertainment, recreation, cultural amenities, social interaction, and diverse cultural and ethnic experiences.
  • Amenities driven: parks, outdoors, thriving farms, sports, hunting, fishing, waterways, greenery, etc.
  • Diverse lifestyle choices: Multi-modal transportation (especially transit), housing type and range of prices, density range.
  • Business and entrepreneurial opportunities: Creativity, risk taking, good market for innovation, high wage jobs.
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