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CBRE identifies 11 U.S. counties as most resilient

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Spokane County, Washington, claims 522,000 residents, thriving aerospace manufacturing and health sciences industries, the nickname “Lilac City” for its eponymous county seat, and bragging rights as the originator of Father’s Day. In a new CBRE study, it’s also one of 11 U.S. counties that demonstrate a high level of resiliency when analyzed across a wide range of complex factors like modern health, weather and economic disruptions.

CBRE’s Location Incentives group identified the 11 counties, spanning Spokane County and Ada County (Boise), Idaho., to Greenville County, South Carolina., and Kent County (Grand Rapids), Michigan., after filtering all 3,142 U.S. counties through diverse criteria that define resilience. The exercise demonstrates how modern site-selection analyses can sift through multiple, wide-ranging qualifiers, even including a county’s susceptibility to wildfires, to arrive at sometimes intriguing conclusions that can factor into a company’s location strategy.

Resilient Counties, From West to East

CountyPrimary CityCountyPrimary City
Spokane, WASpokaneHamilton County, INSuburban Indianapolis
Ada County, IDBoiseKent County, MIGrand Rapids
Davis County, UTSuburban OgdenKnox County, TNKnoxville
Douglas County, NEOmahaFranklin County, OHColumbus
Johnson County, KSSuburban Kansas CityGreenville County, SCGreenville
Polk County, IADes Moines  

Certain counties were disadvantaged due to the nature of CBRE’s analysis. Those included counties with high population density due to virus concerns, heavy reliance on public transit, high home prices and foreclosure risk, and significant exposure to natural disasters including wildfires, hurricanes and potentially rising sea levels.

CBRE’s methodology favored counties with diverse economies, close proximity to major universities and airports, growing populations, fiscal stability and affordable home prices.

“It’s important to keep in mind what this analysis shows us and what it doesn’t,” said Tedd Carrison, senior financial analyst in CBRE’s Location Incentives Group. “What this demonstrates is that you can analyze many locations against wide-ranging economic, education, environment, fiscal, transportation, and health metrics. And the results don’t always point to the largest metropolitan centers.

“However, this doesn’t mean that these metrics are exhaustive or that these 11 counties are the new, preeminent job destinations,” he said. “Site selection for companies is a highly specific and individualized process. Dense cities and coastal hubs always will be well positioned job markets, often due to established talent bases, innovation networks, cultural amenities and other important considerations. But smaller markets may be increasingly appealing as we continue into the next decade, and they should not be overlooked as viable options for many companies and projects,”

To download CBRE’s Rethinking Resiliency report, click here.