Boston is an intellectual city – the city is home to dozens of universities with some of the brightest students in the country living here. When those students graduate many look for a job in an innovative industry, or even seek to start their own company. It used to be that moving West was the logical step for these students (Facebook, anyone?) and for the industries that wanted to attract these bright thinkers. Within the past 5 years or so, this attitude has changed.
West Coast-based companies like Facebook, Twitter, Fitbit, Amazon, Sonos, and Uber have all set up shop in new office spaces in the Greater Boston area. The world’s biggest company, Royal Dutch Shell, has opened a tech center in Cambridge. And when UK-based Avecto was opening an office Stateside the company chose the Hub.
What’s behind this shift? Boston, Cambridge and surrounding communities are focusing their recruiting efforts on the innovation economy. With a third of the area’s residents under 35 years old, the city has entered an echo chamber of business development; highly educated young people want to live and work in the city, and companies are coming here to employ them, so more come here to live.
Here are a few reasons we think the Hub will continue to thrive and attract the brightest minds from all over the world:
The Innovation District and Kendall Square: The Boston Seaport has transformed from a post-industrial desert into the hottest property for startups and tech entrepreneurs, while Cambridge’s Kendall Square is a prime location for new office and lab space. Companies in the Innovation District and Kendall Square are particularly interested in having more access to graduates of MIT and Harvard, so opening an office here is a great way to get on recent graduates’ radar and attract this kind of talent. The Seaport has turned into a place where people want to go because everyone else is there. It’s got the “hip factor” that companies look for when deciding where to open an office.
Techies need to play too: An influx of companies and their young, smart employees doesn’t just mean the need for more housing – it also sparks development around the city. The Innovation District isn’t all work and no play. It’s growing into a hotspot for after-work socializing, which makes working there even more attractive. Boston has already made strides towards becoming a 24-hour city, with a plan to extend T hours. Attracting young business men and women after work will only be possible if the city’s public transportation system catches up. Organizations like Future Boston and the administration of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh have been pushing for these types of changes that directly affect the quality of life for Bostonians, and this in turn compels business owners to open the next trendy after-work hotspot.
The think-tank model: Opening a new office space in Boston or Cambridge positions a company as a forward-thinking member of the innovation scene, which in turn is attractive to students. It’s even a solution to the potential for brain-drain when graduation rolls around.
Boston has more to offer than the Innovation District. Silicon Valley may still be attracting startups and talent, but this East Coast city is emblematic of what The Brookings Institute calls a “Silicon City.” The institute also says that growth in the Innovation District is symbolic of a larger trend, not limited to a specific neighborhood. Places like Downtown Crossing become hotspots and attract businesses that see the success of the Innovation District as enticing as they look for new office space. In fact, NAI Hunneman has placed companies in Downtown Crossing that now have a front row seat to the area’s development boom.
Boston residents can see the effects of an innovative economy on their quality of life. We know that the city has a lot to offer and so do entrepreneurs around the world. Now, the Bay State will race to keep up with the growing tech economy. We’re excited to see what’s next for our city.