Is your company planning a move or an expansion into a new US city? Given the war for hiring top talent, especially from the millennial generation, the available talent pool is an important consideration for choosing a location.

You certainly already know that New York, Los Angeles and Silicon Valley are places where you’ll find talented millennials. But even in those cities, which are some of the most expensive markets in the US, the competition is fierce for hiring top talent. Why not consider some smaller, up-and-coming US cities that are attracting millennials as well as smart companies?

7 cities to consider for hiring top talent

Recent college grads are moving to urban centers and increasing numbers. According to a report by City Observatory, in 1980 young adults were 10% more likely to live in urban centers. By 2010, that number rose to 51%, with college grads 126% more likely to live within 3 miles of a major city center.

In mid-size US cities such as San Diego and Austin, the millennial population is growing as a percentage of the total adult population, according to CBRE’s Workplace Strategy group. That makes these smaller cities ideal for hiring top talent. Also, companies can tap into both urban and suburban populations as long as average commute times remain under one hour. That’s another great reason to focus on smaller cities.

These are some of the cities that may be on the way to becoming economic powerhouses of the future, as well as great locations for attracting top talent to your company.

1. Denver, CO

According to Forbes annual ranking of the Best Places for Businesses and Careers, Denver comes out on top. The city is home to growth industries such as tech, telecom, aerospace and energy, and the population of college grads has increased 47 percent since 2000. The city has a thriving arts and culture scene and also attracts millennials looking for an active, outdoor lifestyle in the mountains.

2. Raleigh, NC

Raleigh is part of North Carolina’s Research Triangle region, which is an important center of research for biotech and technology industries, as well as a magnet for hiring top talent. The area also boasts many top colleges and universities, such as Duke, Wake Forest, NC State, and UNC Chapel Hill. These schools not only provide an economic boost to the region, but attract smart young talent who graduate from school and remain in the area. The mild sunny weather, abundance of outdoor activities, highly rated health care and moderate cost of living are convincing millennials to stay.

3. Portland, OR

The millennial generation is socially and environmentally conscious, and that’s one of Portland’s big attractions. The city is known as one of the greenest places in the world, both in terms of its beautiful location and friendliness to the environment. Like Raleigh, Portland is home to universities that attract young people who stay to work, as well as enjoy the microbreweries, outdoor and cultural activities, and even the coffee! Technology companies are flocking to the city and construction is booming.

4. Austin, TX

Austin may be the next best thing to Silicon Valley for hiring top talent for the tech industry. In fact, it has been called “Silicon Hills” since the 90’s as more and more technology companies are locating headquarters and development centers there. However, Austin has another big draw for the millennial generation besides employment in growth industries like tech, pharmaceutical and biotech. In recent years, the city is now known as the “Live Music Capital of the World” and plays host to one of the largest music festivals in the world.

5. Nashville, TN

While Nashville is known as the center of the music industry, the city is also attracting college grads in large numbers due to job growth in tech, healthcare, and education. It doesn’t hurt that the city also boasts interesting neighborhoods, great restaurants and pubs, and of course music everywhere you turn. It’s also an affordable city with median home prices at $172,000.

6. San Diego, CA

If millennials are looking for great weather to enjoy the outdoors, it’s no wonder they are flocking to San Diego, with its mild climate year round and proximity to the beach. Technology and Defense industries dominate the area along with tourism. Pop culture events are also a big draw, such as Comic-Con, the Street Scene Music Fest and San Diego Black Film Festival.

7. Pittsburgh, PA

Google has expanded into Pittsburgh, which says quite a bit about the city’s prospects for hiring top talent. While it used to be known as an older industrial city, today Pittsburgh is a millennial magnet, due to job growth combined with very affordable housing, beautiful green spaces, historic architecture, and abundant cultural activities. Like many of the other cities on our list, young people are graduating from top schools like Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh and deciding to call the city home.

Why these cities are ripe for economic growth & attracting talent

According to the NY times, economists say there is a strong correlation between attracting top talent and long-term economic success for a city. That’s because for each millennial college grad who begins working in an innovation industry, new jobs are created in other sectors, such as building, food service, medical and education. That growth and capacity for hiring top talent attracts more companies, which in turn attracts more college grads, and the economic improvement feeds on itself.

Create a modern workplace to attract and retain talent

No matter which city you choose for your new location, the workplace you design is critically important for hiring top talent. Millennials in particular are not interested in being chained to a cubical in a traditional workplace environment.

research report from CBRE confirms that millennials want choice in their work environment; they are looking for a mix of spaces for quiet and concentration, collaborating with others, and learning and training. Here’s the part that may be surprising: apparently the older generations are looking for the same thing. Clearly, traditional work environments are no longer the workplace of choice.

That’s good news for corporate real estate. It means that moving toward activity-based working and agile working environments is not only the right move for reducing property costs, but the best strategy for hiring top talent of all ages as well.

Read more:
3 Workplace Strategies for Attracting Top Talent
Agile Working Benefits: Moving Beyond the Dollars

It’s important to remember that hiring top talent is only half the battle: you need to retain the talent you have as well. That means creating spaces that effectively meet the needs of your business. Doing that requires a great deal of intelligence about how, where and when people are working and how they prefer to use space. The challenging part of implementing modern workplaces can be gathering the business intelligence that’s needed to create the right mix.

If you are planning a new space, now is the time to learn about the space utilization tracking technology needed to gather intelligence and help you make the right choices. Here is an informative resource to get you started: Managing Workplace Utilization.

Create an activity based working strategy. Learn how.