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Job Security, New Urbanism and Competing Communities

Commercial Space in the Community of Highland Square near Akron, OH

Commercial space in the New Urban community of Highland Square (Akron, OH)

If we’ve learned anything from this global economic collapse it’s that the traditional indicators of security that we’ve grown accustomed to in many families-job for life, endless supply of cheap fuel, iron clad home equity values–are fleeting notions, at best.

But is that a bad thing?

If you have to move due to a new job or some life issues, then of course it can be catastrophic to lose equity in your home due to dropping home values in your area.

But outside of those “must move” exceptions, if we approach a home purchase as if it is an investment in a community we see supporting our lifestyles and values, then short-term blips in home values shouldn’t be too problematic – not if we’re there for the long-term.

Is the loss of job security all bad? Well, sure it’s nice to develop your expertise with one employer, but it is likely just as beneficial to develop your expertise in different work environments with different people.  Look at the people that spent half their lives or more at automotive plants only to be let go during this financial meltdown. Most have skills that aren’t transferable to other industries or sectors.  Now that is bad news.

When you are forced to change employers or when you choose to work in different sectors based on opportunity and interest you become more valuable as an employee and especially as an entrepreneur.  Better yet – you become more valuable to your community.

One of the key factors companies consider before deciding to locate in a community is the skill and educational level of the people living there–their potential employee pool.

Hiring locally is a much better proposition for a company than having to recruit staff that have to rely on costly transit options and congested freeways to get to work.  So the more skilled community residents become the more competitive our communities become.  I see nothing wrong with having the mindset that we are competing with neighboring communities to attract companies that will hire locally.

Competition works if everyone is made to feel they have a role to play – young or old; rich or poor – all residents have a stake in the community’s well being and can contribute to making a community better in the eyes of locals and potential investors/new residents.

To give you an idea on how “residents” can take better control (or at least have some effective influence) on developments and on the way the community is marketed, take a look at the website created by the residents and small business owners of Highland Square (near Akron, Ohio).  What I like is that they’ve used new media to share videos from recent town hall type meetings and they also have useful and timely information about commercial opportunities, homes for sale and activities and events in the community.

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