Transit & Corporate Headquarters

This past week has seen the release of some interesting data regarding jobs with access to transit (Brookings) as well as another study creating an index of corporate headquarters per million people (Martin Prosperity). For local reference, (and you locals could figure this without a Brookings study) transit access to jobs in the Indianapolis metro region is poor. However, Indy rates above average on the corporate clout index.

Transit Coverage Map (image credit: Brookings Institute)
Transit Coverage Map (image credit: Brookings Institute)


Putting this data into visual form really correlated easily for me. Why are there so many corporate headquarters located in metros with poor access to jobs? Is there a link between low tax havens, which dedicate significant funds to roadway construction like the rust belt, and their magnetic attraction to Fortune 500 companies?

Corporate Clout Map (image credit: Martin Prosperity Institute)
Corporate Clout Map (image credit: Martin Prosperity Institute)

Further comparing the maps, there are some cities which transcend this dynamic. New York is one. San Jose is another. However, it is clear that the Midwest has overall poor jobs access but significant corporate clout.


Comments 7

  • I suspect conservative polity has a lot to do with it.

    The rash of mergers that have gone on in the past few decades also has a lot to do with it. The greater Portland area has only *2* F500 companies (Nike and Precision Castparts); it wasn’t long ago that we had significantly more–but most were bought up by bigger competitors (Fred Meyer, US Bancorp, etc) located out-of-state, or out of the country in the case of Freightliner. One went out of business (Consolidated Freightways).

    Portland has a reasonably strong industrial economy–it’s just that most of it is owned out-of-state.

    In general, the companies doing the buying are located in the East Coast–either in the NYC area, or in the low-cost Southeast.

    Here’s another thought: In many of the cities with low transit-job connectivity and large concentrations of F500, de facto racial segregation is still a problem, and many of the transit patrons are poor and black. Any chance that being disconnected from the bus system is considered a feature and not a bug by some of these powerful companies?

  • I have to think that what this probably says is that there is very little movement in Fortune 500 HQs. I’d be willing to bet that if you started looking at the various Fortune 500 companies that many are still located in the city that they were founded or were they achieved significant growth. I think that this is largely driven by cities not wanting to let corporate HQs leave and frequently coming up with renewed and new incentives. Look at what happened with the CME thing last year.

  • I don’t think the two things are connected at all.
    Let’s look at recent relocations: Boeing went from Seattle to Chicago. No loss of transit connectivity. Lincoln Financial went from Fort Wayne to Philadelphia, and Mead-Johnson went from Evansville to Chicago. Certainly no loss of transit connectivity there, either.

  • Interesting maps, but at first glance, I don’t think there is much correlation. I think F500 map just tells us that industrial/financial companies (Midwest/East) are still well represented in the index. However, per capita measure seems misleading. Do cities like Seattle, Miami, Boston & LA have less business clout than Kansas City, Akron & Detroit? CA, TX & NY have roughly 160 of 500 companies. All three have large corporate clout, but different approaches to transit.
    I would argue that corporations in general look at many different things when choosing location. If cost of doing business was the only criteria, than low cost states like Mississippi (and Indiana) would have easier time attracting and creating such jobs.

    • Low cost/cheap living only goes so far, especially given that young, talented professionals are flocking to San Fransisco, NYC, Chicago, not Mississippi and Indiana.

  • The Access to Transit map is something that is implied and should be noticed by Indianapolis and Indiana government officials as they try to pluck businesses from Chicago. But I’m sure they’d just assume to have businesses located in some Duke office park development off 465. Just the kind of environment Fortune 500 companies look for. Lol

    The Corporate Clout map is useless. In no way does it account for the economy or wealth of a metropolitan area. A better measure would be the number of Fortune 500 companies a city/region has to determine true wealth or “clout”.

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