Quality of Life and Magnetic Communities

Similar to the wide range of definitions one finds for economic development, definitions for quality of life vary wildly from person to person and community to community. They include words like well-being, health, financial security, job satisfaction, safety, comfort and happiness.

Other attributes mentioned as important by businesses, residents, tourists and retirees include:

  • Mild climate,
  • Scenic beauty,
  • Low cost of living,
  • Recreation,
  • Shopping/dining/entertainment,
  • Health care,
  • Housing options,
  • Cultural/social/spiritual opportunities,
  • Education, and
  • Transportation options.

These attributes are also important when it comes to prospering locally in the global economy. Many communities with good paying jobs have been denied the prosperity they seek simply because they do not have the quality of life necessary to attract and retain businesses and residents. As a result, many traditional employment centers and established residential areas have suffered from an outflow of money to communities with a better quality of life. This outflow is not confined to people and paychecks. When current residents leave, or potential residents choose not to relocate, negative forces are put into motion. For example, stores lose customers, banks lose depositors, volunteer groups lose supporters, churches lose parishioners, communities lose population-based social support funding, and so forth.

In the past, communities considered their ability to attract businesses and jobs the primary measure of success. Today, when jobs and businesses are not necessarily tied to a location, communities may be better off measuring success by their ability to attract people rather than businesses and jobs. Proponents of Magnetic Communities do not regard bedroom communities a sign of weakness but rather a sign of strength.

A community with a great quality of life makes it easier to recruit and retain quality businesses, skilled workers, professionals, entrepreneurs, creative workers, engineers, etc. Insuring that quality of life factors meet and exceed expectations is a Magnetic Community strategy that applies universally to businesses, residents, tourists, retirees and governments.

Businesses – It is easier to recruit, expand, start and retain businesses or fill gaps in the local market when communities have an excellent quality of life. For example, when a new business is recruited to a community, it is easier to convince non-resident job applicants to relocate. It is also easier to convert current in-commuters into residents. Important quality of life factors for workers include housing, health care and education.

Residents – Quality of life factors both attract and retain residents. During my working career, I worked and lived in communities with an excellent quality of life. Now that I am retired, I can assure economic developers and local leaders that both resident-retirees and resident-workers are attracted to communities with an exceptional quality of life.

Tourists – Quality of life factors enhance a tourist’s experience. The scenic beauty associated with mountains and beaches attract tourists and out of towners interested in hiking, skiing, surfing, fishing, boating, etc. Also, high on many tourists’ list of things to do is shop, dine out and experience local culture and entertainment.

Retirees – Quality of life factors also attract and retain retirees. Communities should not forget that retirees are also residents. They may no longer be working but they do have a steady flow of income from Social Security, pensions, investment income, etc.

Governments – Local governments are responsible for many quality of life factors. Some of which include: parks, recreation, safety, (street lights, police, EMS, fire) public health, infrastructure (water, sewer, roads, sidewalks, public transportation, etc.).

Magnetic Communities understand how quality of life contributes to prosperity and why it is important to meet and exceed expectations of businesses, residents, job seekers, tourists and retirees.