I am a big infrastructure guy. Everywhere I go, I tell local investors that their city’s growth potential is limited unless it has good transportation infrastructure (roads, airports and mass transit). Based on my experience, ‘old school’ cities like New York, Washington DC, Chicago and Boston score very high for transportation infrastructure. While Chicago’s subway system may look old, it would cost about $500 billion to replace. That’s a lot of valuable infrastructure that gives Chicago a long-term competitive advantage!
This is not so for ‘new school’ hip, young, up-and-coming cities like Nashville, Austin and Raleigh-Durham. But despite their inferior transportation infrastructure, these cities are growing like gangbusters with no end in sight. Seattle has grown so quickly that it is the only market I’ve seen in my career move up from secondary to primary status. These cities have grown despite their relatively weak infrastructure because they have deep pools of home-grown talent from top-tier local universities and live-work-play attributes that make them hotbeds for in-migration of highly skilled young professionals. Based on these observations, it’s easy to conclude that a lack of adequate transportation infrastructure does not prevent a city from attracting top talent.