Small City Vibe, Big City Resources

February 24, 2017 by Midlothian Economic Development


When choosing a job, many employees consider the quality of life in the region the job is located. For companies, this can be a major factor in site selection.

In both cases, the factors that make up quality of life (e.g., recreation, local schools, safety, climate) do not always correlate with the resources and interests a big city holds. For many site selectors, this means seeking the best of both worlds, a big thriving city with great nearby resources for employees to find comfort in raising their families.

This situation often leads to increases in commuting. Many people are choosing to locate their families in the best neighborhoods near their workplace, and make the necessary drive to their place of work. While this has become a new normal, oversaturated markets in some regions have made it difficult to find affordable and quality living within a city business hub.  

For these regions, the best of both worlds doesn’t exist. Therefore, while businesses might find the site a perfect location in terms of business priorities, the implications on workforce and employee relocation may prove difficult for the employee and employer alike.

So what’s the solution? Alternative sites that meet the happy medium — a small city vibe and quality of life, with the resources of a big city that will make both business and employee life simpler.

The Value of a Transportation Haven

For most in a small city, the value of their neighborhood comes in terms of community. The size brings comfort, safety, the ability to know your neighbors, and a more laid-back life. What it doesn’t always offer is convenience. While some small towns may be walkable, they may have limited transportation options, which can be especially detrimental if the town is sprawled out.

For citizens needing more expanded resources than what the town is able to offer, there may be a need travel to a larger city or local hub — meaning a distant drive in a car (especially if the town is secluded enough from major roadways) or dependence on neighbors if there’s no public transit available. If the town is away from major roadways it may mean a longer time for resources to come around, or less through travel for business. It can also mean lack of access to longer-distance travel such as train or plane.

For businesses or employees considering a new site in a small city, second thoughts may occur around the value of small-town life vs. accessibility.

However, not all small cities suffer heavily from these limitations. Cities located close to large metropolitan hubs can find added value to their location in taking advantage of their large local neighbors. A town like Midlothian, Texas, just 30 minutes outside of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, is easily able to maintain a small-town charm while taking advantage of the cities’ urban sprawl.

From its location, Midlothian offers access without city crowding. Located at the intersection of Highway 67 and Highway 287, Midlothian is easily accessible for both businesses and residents. There are also four major interstate highways within 30 minutes, as well as two major airports within 30 miles and a regional airport within 12. Both Burlington Northern/Santa Fe and Union Pacific also run through Midlothian, serving the RailPort Business Park in heavy industrial, light commercial, and foreign trade-zone options.

This unprecedented access to transportation options without the typical population density puts Midlothian in a unique position of servicing big business and local residents alike.

City Access Sans Trade-Offs

Especially among younger generations, the call of larger cities relates to the cultural and social resources available there. As this demographic begins to grow, the ability to appeal to this generation on this front will be increasingly important to employers and their site selection.

For millennials, cities mean access. Access to growth, opportunity, and the latest of anything new. From new movies to new technology, everything becomes available in major cities first. Major cities are also able to offer a wider variety of entertainment, be it bars, concert venues, or shows. Major cities may also offer greater opportunity for growth, personal or professional, through networking, meetup groups, and other interest-based activities. But despite these advantages, there will always be people who prefer a calmer lifestyle than one a city can offer.

For Midlothian, this access comes in the near equidistant placement between Dallas and Fort Worth, giving residents an abundance of social and cultural options. From the Stockyards to Fair Park, Midlothian residents have easy access to some of the metroplex’s best attractions — all within a reasonable driving distance, and without the density of a suburb like Plano.

Getting the Best of Both Worlds in Site Selection

Though the proximity to DFW benefits Midlothian from a resource perspective, Midlothian has many individual draws that big city dwellers may envy.

For one, Midlothian is much safer than Dallas with an annualized crime rate of 1.7 compared to 6.98 for Dallas proper, giving a sense of security to residents.

Midlothian ISD has also shown better results than its neighboring cities, with higher test scores than both state and national averages for the ACT and SAT, as well as meeting state standards in STAR testing. Midlothian ISD also has a five-star rating in the Texas Smart Schools Rating guidelines showing a high relative progress compared to low-spend.

If nothing else, Midlothian proves that the trade-off of resources and access vs. quality of life and comfort doesn’t have to be a compromising point in the site-selection process. Instead, both businesses and employees alike should be able to find balance when a small city vibe and big city resources meet.
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