It has been previously stated on this blog that entrepreneurs look for certain characteristics in cities and local communities as they consider launching a business somewhere. Overall, it seems that quality of life is a major factor in cities with flourishing entrepreneurial ecosystems.
A great deal of research, including Endeavor Insight’s, supports the idea that quality of life is an important factor for entrepreneurship. However, it is not easy to measure quality of life in a quantitative fashion: it is difficult to identify what factors impact quality of life, and the elements that make for a high quality of life are not consistent in different parts of the world (or even within the same country).
A study published in 2012 by the Business Dynamics Research Consortium provides an interesting perspective on what amenities are necessary for communities to support entrepreneurs and their high-growth firms. The study tested for a large number of potential variables including:
- Fortune 500 company headquarters,
- gender equity,
- total number of banks,
- educational attainment levels,
- amount of seed venture capital, and
- population density.
The researchers did not find a significant relationship between any of the variables above or many others.
Of the many variables, access to parkland was one of the only factors that significantly impacted the presence of high-growth firms. Parkland and its associated amenities, from frisbee leagues to art festivals, were one of the only quality of life measurements within the extensive survey.
While it may seem unlikely that public parks play a larger role than factors like access to Fortune 500 companies in the overall growth of businesses within a region, researchers like Richard Florida would disagree.
Florida, a professor of economic development at New York University, would likely argue that parkland is a proxy for quality of life within a community. To Florida, “Quality of place defines the very soul of a successful community; the factors that go into it—aesthetic, cultural, demographic—add up to the things that everyone wants in their communities.” Parks are one example of place where the “soul” that Florida describes can develop.
Governments looking to spur economic development should create institutions that improve the overall quality of life to attract entrepreneurs and desirable employees. The combination creates an environment where high-growth firms can thrive. These findings only strengthen the mounting research on the relationship between high quality of life and the success of high-growth firms.