In both urban and suburban centres, vibrant, dense, mixed-use areas can be a recipe for economic growth. Usually called “Complete Communities,” neighbourhoods that draw a diversity of talent also attract businesses and organizations.
A 2015 study, carried out in Washington, D.C. by Emil Malizia of the University of North Carolina and Yasuyuki Motoyama of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, found that the density of high-growth firms is greatest in communities considered to be “vibrant,” regardless of their location in relation to “downtown.”
What’s a vibrant community? According to a Citylab article by Richard Florida, vibrancy depends on several factors:
“Vibrant neighborhoods are dense and compact, feature a diversity of land uses (i.e. office, retail, entertainment, and industrial spaces), are a short distance from transit, and have dense street intersections, among other characteristics.”
The results of the study are a reminder that we tend to oversimplify the dichotomy between urban and suburban. The more complex picture is more about “nodes of vibrancy,” regardless of location.
In Regina, we have older established Complete Communities such as Cathedral, and more are popping up further out. Harbour Landing is an example of an energized community with thriving businesses nearby. There are also the recently approved developments such as Westerra, The Towns and Eastbrook that have the same goal, to be a vibrant community and attract both residents and businesses.
Regina’s Official Community Plan calls for infill housing to reduce strain on land, resources and infrastructure – but it also creates economic health. And in older neighbourhoods, redevelopment is helping to bring back the vibrancy that existed when these neighbourhoods were built – and housed a much larger population than they do now.
Simply put, it is the vibrancy of a neighbourhood—not whether it’s urban or suburban—that attracts businesses and helps bolster a high-growth regional economy.