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Get Your Piece of Booming U.S. Cities


None of us know how long this unprecedented economic expansion will last, but American cities are still booming. During the last decade, this growth of U.S. cities has been nearly universal, with metropolises large and small, old and new growing at rates we haven’t seen any time in recent memory. If your franchise is still focused on the ‘burbs, it’s likely that you’re missing out on some huge opportunities.

Some tidbits: Nashville added nearly 60,000 new residents in the last eight years. Los Angeles added nearly 160,000 in the same time period. Charlotte zoomed from 698K to nearly 850K. San Diego added almost 140,000 new people. Boston is up by almost 90K. My home of Minneapolis, which is geographically smaller than many old U.S. cities, has grown by at least 30,000 in the same timeframe. These are major numbers that should be turning heads among your franchise’s real estate development team.

Of course, not every big U.S. city is booming. Chicago and Washington, D.C., are two notable burgs that have seen their populations drop, but the surrounding areas of both are still growing at a healthy clip.

In my Urbane Franchisor column for Franchise Times, I’m constantly harping on the need to include urban centers and downtown areas in your real estate plans, and we’ve shared urban tales from Wingstop, Taco Bell, Arby’s, Gloria Jean’s and several brands that have gone after the hearts, minds, stomachs and wallets of city dwellers.

Three years later, I’m now receiving pitches from brands that are employing exactly this kind of urban-focused strategy that’s at the heart of each column. As the economy becomes increasingly dependent on big-city amenities, be they human capital, brain power or major job-creating institutions like universities and government outposts, there’s nothing suggesting the rural-to-urban train is slowing down.

I’m not running out of gas, either. From the challenges of negotiating a lease within a mixed-use development, how brands are planning to reach up-and-coming neighborhoods, the impact of walkability scores on your location’s foot traffic, the impact of new forms of personal transportation or how lease rates are shifting in cities, there are many topics yet to cover—and we haven’t even touched drones, yet.

What about your brand or franchise operation? If you’re trying a new strategy, seeing success with something we’ve covered, struggles we haven’t discussed or are deploying new tricks others could benefit from, I urge you to get in touch and tell me how you are cracking the urban code.

It’s easy to get excited about what’s happening in cities, especially when you’re experiencing newly awesome places first-hand and on foot. That doesn’t mean an urban strategy is always easy or advisable, as we’ve seen with the recent closing of the first Manhattan Carl’s Jr.

Shoot me an email (tkaiser@franchisetimes.com) or give me a call. Let’s talk cities!

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About This Blog

The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is senior editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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