New survey reveals factors driving Millennial CEOs’ relocation decisions

July 15, 2016

What’s driving the expansion and relocation decisions of a younger generation of CEOs at the helm of some of today’s fastest growing companies?

Much more than business climate and talent, according to the results of the Tampa Hillsborough EDC’s latest in-depth survey of 125 CEOs under the age of 40. The group, comprised of executives leading high-growth companies with up to $50 million in revenues and an average of nearly 40 employees, ranked lifestyle, commute times, crime, and the ability to live and work in the same area among their most important criteria in choosing a new headquarters or expansion city for their business.

CEOs in the Tampa, Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, and Nashville metros were surveyed in the study, which was conducted in March and April by Market Enhancement Group.

The survey participants were asked to rate all five metros on 24 different factors in the relocation process and how the Tampa market compares with the competing metros listed above on those same decision making factors.

Tampa’s business climate, cost of living, affordability, and desirability as a place to live were given the highest favorability ratings of all markets from the respondents. Tampa CEOs expressed the greatest satisfaction with their home market, citing the areas’ tax and business friendliness, minimal bureaucratic requirements, quality of life and skilled workforce among the market’s top positive characteristics.

Crime rates play a large role in deciding where the respondents would locate their businesses. For Atlanta CEOs, crime was the second most important decision making factor, while more than two thirds of CEOs from Dallas mentioned crime as a key consideration for evaluating a new market. The City of Tampa, by contrast, has the lowest crime rate when compared to the cities of Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, and Nashville.

Nearly a quarter of the CEOs surveyed said they were either very or somewhat likely to move or establish a new headquarters facility in the next one to three years. Business expansions, talent needs, an ability to live and work in the same area and business costs topped the list of reasons why. Nashville and Dallas area CEOs led the pack in expressing a desire to relocate, with 28% of executives in those markets indicating that they were very or somewhat likely to move.

When it comes to location decisions, Millennial CEOs rely on themselves and their teams (90%) as well as accounting firms (61%), mentors (52%), and real estate brokers (48%).

The most significant difference between this group of young CEOs and the 350 more seasoned executives that the EDC surveyed in 2014 was in the way they make decisions about their organization’s future and the sources of information on which they rely to do so. This younger group’s reliance on social media for information about communities under consideration is one big shift. Nearly 60% reporting that they regularly turning to social channels to gather intelligence, versus 0% of the older group of executives in the 2014 survey, also conducted by Market Enhancement Group. Lifestyle factors such as short commute times and options for living and working in the same area are much more important as well.

Regardless of which generation they belong to, the CEOs in both surveys agree that talent, pro-business local and state leadership, personal taxes and labor costs top the list of key considerations for an expansion or relocation decision.

For more information about the survey or to obtain a copy, please contact Michelle Bauer, VP of Marketing and Communications, at