Local alliances put some cities on fast track recovery

As vaccination rates rise and business resumes, cities across the country are moving forward with a plan for meticulous economic recovery to freeze employees back into offices and revive real estate markets due to the epidemic To be.

Some midsize cities – like Austin, Texas; Boise, Idaho; And Portland, Ore. – May be ready to rebound faster than others as they have developed strong relationships with their local economic development groups. These partnerships have established withdrawal plans that cover several common goals, such as access to affordable loans, relief for small businesses, and a focus on downtown areas.

The partnership is encouraging investment in infrastructure for new business activities. Last Wednesday, President Biden announced $ 2 trillion infrastructure plan To modernize the country’s bridges, roads, public transport, railways, ports and airports.

“Recovery plans create an agenda for the reconstruction of the metropolitan area,” said Professor Richard Florida of the University of Toronto, who helped formulate a plan for northwestern Arkansas.

In Tucson, the revitalization plan, which comes into effect this month, called for an assessment of the impact of the epidemic on important business sectors, including biotech and logistics. Other provisions advocate the recruitment of talented workers and the preparation of so-called shovel-finished building sites of 50 acres or more.

Demand for industrial sites in Tucson is high. More than 80 percent of the requests for real estate in the city are towards industrial facilities, according to the Sun Corridor, the regional economic development agency that sponsors the recovery plan. And 65 percent of inquiries deal with space for new factories.

According to the Sun Corridor, city leaders have planned a $ 23 billion development plan over five years in industrial and logistics development in the Tucson area, which will result in 16,000 new jobs. Caterpillar and Amazon moved into the region, while Raytheon, Bombardier and GEICO were among several major companies that expanded there.

“In the context of hockey, we are not playing where the puck is; We are trying to predict what we are going to say by Joe Snell, president and chief executive officer of the Sun Corridor. “We are making sure that we have a list of construction sites so that we can fill the order when they get knocked down.”

Other cities are struggling to recover from the epidemic after evacuating their central trading districts. The question is how much will these cities bounce when the epidemic ends.

“The epidemic caused major changes in the geography of how we work and where we work,” Mr. Florida said. “The office, as we know it, is a place to work, is dead.”

Experts disagree about what comes next. Richard Barkham, global chief economist at commercial real estate firm CBRE, said many economic trends, such as increased hiring and acceptance of remote work, are colliding.

After a 3.5 percent drop in economic activity in 2020, the US economy is expected to grow 6.5 percent in 2021, he said, which bodes well for construction. But CBRE also says office workers will spend 36 percent of their time working remotely, up to 16 percent before the epidemic.

“We see a temporary drop in demand for new offices,” Mr. Barkham said. “We also see that by the time the centers return, two or three or four years are going away.”

Tracy Hayden Loh, a partner at the Brookings Institution, said the travel and entertainment sectors were shut down during the epidemic, but companies that indulged in innovation, technology and information boomed. The growth in growth of office space for tech jobs was particularly strong in Austin; Charlotte, NC; Phoenix; And San Francisco, she said, that the creation of the office for the knowledge economy would be revived after the epidemic.

But she furious at her prediction because of another trend: “The number of workers per worker has declined dramatically since 1990,” she said. Couple with recent announcements of companies like Google, Microsoft, aim And Twitter Regarding remote work, and in some cities less activity of office building can be seen.

These challenges are not limited to building cities only. Large metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles and New York are certainly in crisis, but they have shown the ability to overcome disaster in the past. In San Francisco, municipal officials said there was no way to predict postpandemic construction activity but expectations were high.

“This is not the first recession here,” San Francisco chief economist Ted Egan said. “We are expecting people to come back to office.”

But cities that have a strong alliance with business development agencies are expected to rebuild rapidly.

The Downtown Austin Alliance, for example, is conducting a business development group, focus groups and workshops, and conducting interviews and surveys to generate new interest in its downtown office market. Prior to the epidemic, 11 buildings with a radius of approximately 3.5 million sq ft were under construction, half of all the city’s office space.

Boise established a 16-member economic reform task force made up of officials from city officials, academics and professional organizations. In September, it issued recommendations to “increase economic resilience and agility”.

And the Greater Portland Economic and Development District formed a partnership with the metro regional government to formulate a plan to overcome the economic shock of the epidemic, which wiped out 140,000 jobs and laid off 30 percent of the region’s small businesses . Among his recommendations is Direct funding and technical assistance to small businesses through local community development financial institutions, part of an affordable-lending program from the Treasury Department.

Some cities are already seeing success. A year ago, Boston abruptly suspended construction for nine weeks in an attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus. During the moratorium, the Boston Planning and Development Agency prepared a recovery plan, which focused on reviewing permit decisions for remotely major projects. Working from home with its 250-member staff, and in some cases prepared with new software and digital tools, the planning agency held 220 virtual public meetings and reviewed digital plans and land-use proposals.

Agency Director Brian P. “We identified a methodology to conduct our review and resume public participation,” Golden said. “Honestly, it can work better than expected.”

The city approved 55 critical development projects last year, with 15.8 million square feet and a value of $ 8.5 billion, the highest in Boston’s history. The largest was the $ 5 billion Suffolk Downs, a 10-million-square-foot, mixed-use development with 10,000 housing units that grew on a closed horse racing track.

Tucson is also intent on resuming construction. Along with identifying sites for industrial development, the Sun Corridor recovery plan calls for the city to be revitalized.

The epidemic closed 85 downtown restaurants, eliminated 10,000 travel and tourism jobs and cut $ 1 billion in income in the region. Marak is to persuade city and county leaders to make loans and grants available to small businesses associated with the tourism industry, a focus of commercial space in central Tucson.

Mayor Regina Romero said the city is investing $ 5 million – $ 2 million more than last year – in the city’s tourism marketing group. The federal relief law in March 2020 disbursed Tucson $ 9 million, ranging from $ 10,000 to $ 20,000 to small businesses, many of them in tourism.

“We’re working together as a region,” Ms. Romero said. “This is one of the most important steps we can take to recover.”

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