Business migration is up. How can you best compete?

A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report shared that 6,384 businesses relocated across state lines in 2021, up from 5,524 in 2020 and 3,677 in 2010.

States such as New York (-487), California (-456) and Illinois (-208) led net out-migration, while Florida (+399), North Carolina (+148) and Nevada (+103) attracted the most businesses from other states. Government-driven factors, such as taxes and regulation, or lack thereof, play a major role in these relocation decisions.

For better or worse, cities, towns, counties and regions are impacted significantly by these trends. If you’re in a state losing businesses, the challenges are obvious. You must find ways to retain your top employers – and attract others – amid outside economic factors. On the other side of the coin, communities in high-migration states face more competition than ever. How do you convince businesses that your community is a better option than your in-state counterparts?

A key piece of that strategy is forming and articulating your value proposition. Independent of outside factors, you must demonstrate how your community is different from others and how it will benefit businesses, employers and other stakeholders. A well defined brand identity and message is key to that effort.

From a programmatic standpoint, creating local economic benefits, incentive offerings and support programs for businesses is another good place to start.

Beyond that, communities can separate from others by investing in their quality of place. Enhancements to infrastructure, entertainment and experiences help businesses see the value in setting up shop in your community. That’s because the higher your quality of place is, the easier it will be for them to attract talent.

For example, Quincy, a town in west-central Illinois – a state suffering from out-migration – implemented the “Quincy Next” strategic plan, which featured a variety of enhancements to its downtown, riverfront, infrastructure, tourism and recreational activities. The city has invested millions in upgrades to-date, with more coming later.

Additionally, the city launched a Q-WRAP initiative in 2021 that provides up to $5,000 in property tax and rent rebates for new residents who take a job in Quincy. The incentive program is marketed through the Quincy’s Calling campaign, which has attracted nearly 200 new residents on its own since its 2021 launch. All of the above are strategies appealing to current and prospective employers, helping Quincy fight back against out-migration.

On the other side of the spectrum, Clark County – home to Las Vegas and other upstart regions in fast-growing Nevada – has implemented a variety of programs to foster and supplement its state’s momentum.

Most notably, the county created the Office of Community and Economic Development in 2019, which exists to bring new companies to the region as well as support existing businesses and local entrepreneurs.

In four years, the office has spearheaded initiatives such as innovative funding for small businesses, technical assistance to entrepreneurs, the planned development of a Technology and Innovation Zone, as well as a concierge program to help prospective businesses move through regulatory processes quickly. The initiatives have played a key role in diversifying the county’s economy beyond gaming and recruiting businesses as they depart from other states.

Business migration continues to increase. No matter where your state falls on the spectrum, a strong brand identity and community marketing plan is necessary to earn or maintain your fair share of economic development. We can help you build and implement your strategic approach.