This past week Business Insider published a list of who they predicted would be the Hottest Cities in America for 2016. Durham was on the list. We’ve been making a lot of lists over the last 5 years; so what’s so good about this one?
Most of the lists, are just that, lists. We give little thought to anything other than what number we fell at. They are a ranking based on standard statistical data deemed indicative of success…job growth, population growth, GDP growth, etc. They sometimes include some indicators of affordability…cost of housing, groceries, etc. Do the math…here’s where we fall on the list.
But recently we have seen increased lists and data around livability… And even more recently these lists have added innovation, wellness, and coolness as measures of livability. These are relatively new indicators that attempt to measure not just the financial reasons someone would live in a given community, but provide some sort of value to the quality of that living as measured by emerging standards held by a new generation of very mobile prospective residents.
The first “so what” in this new accolade from Business Insiders is that “being cool” is no longer some innocuous terminology used as descriptive adjectives in community brochures, but is indeed a measurable data point that is driving location decisions by both future individual and business residents of our communities. And the good news is, Durham has been doing “cool” for a long time.
The second “so what” is that our brand of coolness resonates with this new generation…it includes diversity, authenticity, techie, and organic. It is a lifestyle coolness that is urban and walkable full of nerds that actually care about where they live, work, learn and play.
The third “so what”, is that this list represents Durham’s list of evolving competition for this future individual and business residents. I say evolving because Austin, Atlanta, and Cambridge have always made the list as we compete with them on the traditional technology and life science side….but Nashville, Madison and Detroit have been creeping in to more and more conversations and Durham will soon be forced into defending its brand of coolness over theirs.
In the competition for great talent and successful companies, Durham has always played in the big boy’s sand box because of assets such as the Research Triangle Park and Duke. Now its playing in the big boy’s sandbox because, in addition to RTP and Duke, we’ve added assets such as American Tobacco Campus, the American Underground, Professor Toon, KidEthnic, and Runaway’s #DURM brand. More than ever people, coolness matters…