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Downtown Providence A recent  WSJ  article shed some light on a growing trend among middle to large-sized U.S. firms at what they call to be "Corporate Urbanism"--where businesses leave their suburban locations for the glitz and glam of big city living. Major companies like  Motorola, United Continental Holdings Inc., Hillshire Brands Co. have already made their move to downtown locations. Even tech companies like Pinterest will be leaving Silicon Valley, the leading hub of technology and innovation of this country, for San Francisco. This article states that nearly "200 Fortune 500 companies are currently headquartered in the top 50 cities" and companies who remain in the 'burbs will substitute by creating high-profile satellite offices in major cities. According to Scott Sullivan, Motorola's head of human resources, recruiting would be easier, as most young and innovative talent live in thriving urban communities.  Other reasons for the shift to urban headquarters would be public transportation, easy accessibility to other companies, happy hours, and dare we say, keeping up with appearances. Yup, companies are relocating to urban centers not just for the everyday conveniences, but the appearances as well.  "The bottom line: companies are under pressure to establish an urban presence that projects an image of dynamism and innovation," reports The Wall Street Journal. If you don't believe us, take a look at a map of where FM Global is currently located: FM-GLOBAL-Locations If you're a start-up and looking for young hard-working talent, you'd establish yourself where they are. It seems that companies headquartered in idyllic settings is now a thing of the past. This got us thinking. What about local companies based in or around the Providence area? Our state's own startup accelerator program, Betaspring, is located downtown in Providence's old Jewelry District and GTECH's world headquarters is on Memorial Boulevard.   On the other hand, Hasbro is headquartered in Pawtucket, Amica Mutual Insurance Company is based in Lincoln, Citizens Financial Group in Smithfield, FM Global in Johnston and CVS Caremark Corporation in Woonsocket. Could there be an incentive for one of the latter examples to move their headquarters downtown? To be a bit more specific, how about the Superman Building? A portion of Hasbro's company has moved to downtown Providence. Think about it: If we were to follow suit to what other major companies in the U.S. are doing, then we would be relocating to where the talent is. Young graduates may not have a car to travel to Smithfield for an interview. And do visiting scholars who partake in medical research programs in Pawtucket or Warwick want to buy a used car for a semester?

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Jim DeRentis
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