When The (Work) Day Is Through

Choosing a place that offers a wide variety of recreation and leisure options is key to your next location.

By Anne Cosgrove
From the May/June 2022 Issue

Quality of life has always factored into corporate relocation and expansion decisions to varying degrees. For company leadership and employees, when work is done for the day it’s time to unwind. Schools, recreation, and other crucial aspects of living have their place on virtually every site selector’s list of factors to evaluate in the search. The Covid-19 pandemic moved quality of life considerations way up the list. As we continue to adjust to the new normal, it’s expected that this trend will continue.

Quality of life
An outdoor concert plays for the crowd in Wheeling Town Center, a mixed-use development that includes the Village Green for community gatherings. (Photo: Village of Wheeling)

Employees now expect a better work/life balance than ever before, and convenient access to recreational activities plays a part for many as they consider their work opportunities. Following is a look at several locations providing examples of quality of life impacts.

Village of Wheeling, IL: Town Center Focus

Wheeling, IL is synonymous with quality of life, as the Village and its partner agencies take pride in creating a remarkably high degree of livability for residents, business owners, and visitors. It’s easy to see why, given the abundant parks, forest preserves, and open spaces, the Wheeling Park District’s state-of-the-art recreational facilities, a world-class dining scene, and community-defining projects including Wheeling Town Center, a transit-oriented mixed-use development that incorporates a 20,000-square-foot Village Green for community gatherings.

The central location also makes it easy to get anywhere one needs to be, with O’Hare International Airport just 15 minutes away, downtown Chicago 30 minutes away, and regional attractions like Ravinia and the Chicago Botanic Garden within a few minutes’ drive.

The Village is committed to fostering a sense of place that enriches the experience of living in Wheeling for current and future residents. Town officials want everyone who considers making a home there to understand Wheeling as a community that embraces its history while building a future in which they are consistently known for best-in-class services and facilities.

Toward that end, for example, the Village is now in the process of completing the Restaurant Row Corridor Plan study to ensure that this community-defining district—the historic heart of Wheeling—remains a vibrant source of pride. The plan’s recommendations will guide the Village’s efforts to create more entertainment, dining, open space, placemaking, and gathering options for everyone to enjoy.

The Village’s Economic Development team recently helped a growing food manufacturing facility locate in Wheeling. “During the site selection process the CEO asked about what Wheeling has to offer employees who want to live close to the new facility,” said Patrick M. Ainsworth, AICP, Director of Economic Development for the Village of Wheeling. “[This CEO] was pleasantly surprised by the huge variety of housing and transportation options, the diverse mix of businesses serving the region, and the sheer livability of the community. That manufacturer came to town, and continues to expand: a happy ending for all concerned.”

Charles County, MD: Plethora Of Activities

Charles County, MD is bursting with vitality. From its loyal residents to its high-caliber workforce, from its striking landscapes to its vibrant suburban areas. Livability, workability, accessibility; Charles County delivers for the best quality of life.

Quality of life offerings are essential for any location to compete for business investment and talent attraction. Charles County offers its robust workforce and residents all the cultural, entertainment, and economic advantages of a large urban region, while at the same time, remaining one of the state’s most scenic areas. This juxtaposition of rural and urban life means employment opportunities and weekend activities can both be found within the County.

Charles County Economic Development Department
From 300 miles of shoreline to a 60-acre lake, Charles County, MD offers an abundance of water activities to enjoy. (Photo: Charles County Economic Development Department)

Great Place to Play. Home to 300 miles of shoreline, 17 marinas, and a 60-acre lake, Charles County has an abundance of water activities to enjoy. Wide-open spaces and waterfront recreation delight fisherfolk, kayakers, paddleboarders, and residents.

For those who prefer dry land activities, Charles County has an astounding 28,000 acres of parks and natural wildlife areas, all less than an hour from the DC metro area. The 30 county parks, three state parks, and rail trails are perfect for horseback riding, cycling, hiking, birding, and woodland fun.

State-of-the-art recreation areas feature climbing walls, skate parks, swimming, golf, basketball, pickle ball, and tennis, providing a wealth of sporting activities. And crabs are always in season at Regency Furniture Stadium, home to the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs Professional Baseball Club.

Fine arts are center stage at the College of Southern Maryland, which hosts performances and concerts throughout the year. The Port Tobacco Players and Black Box Theatre amaze local audiences with regional award-winning theater productions. Music and arts festivals hosted by the Charles County Arts Alliance and local communities keep the creative scene lively.

Great Place to Learn. Charles County public education comprises 40 schools and education centers with a total enrollment of more than 26,000. A STEM focus (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is embedded into the curriculum from pre-K through grade 12. Charles County students maintain some of the highest graduation rates in the State of Maryland, and an outstanding school system is one of the attractions for professional families moving to Charles County from other areas of the Washington DC region.

The College of Southern Maryland, a regionally accredited community college, offers a variety of learning options, student services, and workforce development training. Charles County also offers access to world-class universities within an hour’s reach:

  • Georgetown University
  • George Washington University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Mary Washington University
  • University System of Maryland at Southern Maryland
  • St. Mary’s College of Maryland
  • University of Maryland College Park
Charles County Economic Development Department
Hosting its first game in 2008, Regency Furniture Stadium is home to the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs Professional Baseball Club. (Photo: Charles County Economic Development Department)

Great Place to Live. With the yin and yang of both suburban and rural, Charles County residents can choose from a range of housing options, suited to every age and stage:

  • Village-style communities: amenity-rich apartments, townhomes, and single-family homes within walking distance of attractions.
  • Family-friendly neighborhoods: residential areas with easy access to schools and recreation.
  • Rural relaxation: homes in charming country settings.
  • Waterfront escapes: frontage with fantastic views.

At about 44% below the average of the DC metro area, Charles County’s cost of living is affordable and opportunistic. Whether you seek picket fences or apartments with convenient walkability, Charles County provides housing options 133% less expensive than the metro area alternative.

Between its low cost of living, range of housing choices, and proximity to Washington, DC, Charles County is an exciting choice for highly skilled talent, from Gen Z to baby boomers

Dorchester County, MD: Heart Of The Chesapeake

Home to industrious, innovative, and creative individuals, the landscape of Dorchester County, MD defines not only where—but who they are. Shaped and surrounded by water this community reflects the character and culture of all who live in, work in, and visit this location offering an authentic Chesapeake lifestyle on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Quality of life
The 18th hole at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina in Dorchester County, MD provides sweeping water views. (Photo: Dorchester County Economic Development)

With more than 1,700 miles of shoreline, Dorchester County is a beautiful place to live, work and play. Inspired by a rich maritime history, abundant natural beauty, and tranquil waterfront settings, millennials, entrepreneurs, and retirees are discovering this Eastern Shore community, whose tagline is “water moves us.”

Cambridge, the county seat, is a seaport community on the shores of the Choptank River. The city’s rich maritime heritage and working waterfront are on display along the shores where watermen, sail makers, ship chandlers, and boat captains make their living among the museums, restaurants and attractions.

From waterfront estates to rural developments and city condos, townhouses, and apartments, Dorchester County boasts attractive and affordable housing options. Local amenities include shops, restaurants, parks, marinas, and public entertainment venues within walking or biking distance.

Take a look at some of the towns (Hurlock, Hoopersville, Taylors Island, Elliot, and others), attractions, and activities that shape the quality of life in Dorchester County:

Vienna. Founded in 1706, this quaint town on the Nanticoke River thrived on trade, shipbuilding, and tobacco farming. With a current population of 275, Vienna is boasts miles of beautiful waterfront.

Church Creek. Located six miles south of Cambridge, Church Creek is said to be the first estab-lished settlement in Dorchester County. Church Creek has a small population of 125 residents, but a large history regarding religion and education.

East New Market. East New Market was active during the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War. Originally named “New Market”, the town became a center of commercial crossroads for Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

From endurance athletes and waterfowl sportsmen to boating enthusiasts and history lovers, Dorchester’s natural beauty and signature waterfront attracts people who want to live, work and play in the heart of Chesapeake country. A few of its incomparable destinations and recreational assets include:

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Enjoy birdwatching, cycling, hiking, and paddling in this 28,000-acre refuge, a major stop on the Atlantic flyway for migratory and one of USA Today’s top 10 for places to view wildlife.

Boater’s Paradise. From events like the Cambridge Classic and fall Skipjack races to the dozens of public marinas and boating businesses, Dorchester is a boater’s paradise.

Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay. Situated on the banks of the Choptank River, the Hyatt Regency  Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina is a 350-acre paradise for family vacations, weekend getaways, and business retreats.

IRONMAN Maryland. The only full distance IRONMAN on the East Coast brings thousands of endurance athletes and supporters to Cambridge each Fall.

Harriet Tubman Museum
The Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center in Dorchester County showcases the life and achievements of this Maryland-born historical figure. (Photo: Dorchester County Economic Development)

Hunting and Birding. Exquisite natural resources and abundant waterfowl have made Dorchester a magnet for sportsmen and bird watchers alike.

Harriet Tubman Attraction. Opened in 2017, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center in Church Creek has quickly become one of Maryland’s most popular destinations.

Historically, manufacturing, food processing, fishing and agriculture were dominant industries here. Today, tourism, business services, and fulfillment operations have created new economic and employment opportunities. Coupled with a thriving entrepreneurial community, Dorchester is a county on the move.

Middlesex County, Ontario: A Place To Call Home

Middlesex County offers a rich rural-urban landscape in the heart of southern Ontario complete with all the must haves for multi-nationals or local businesses looking to expand or upgrade facilities like affordable land prices, educated workforce, multi-level government support, and desirable quality of life.

Companies that rely upon “on time” deliveries appreciate the access to three border crossings within a two hour drive. The area’s 401 and 402 series highways are vital in transporting goods to destinations across the globe. Rail and air transport are locally available with both Canadian National and Canadian Pacific traveling through the County and the London International Airport offering a central location for both cargo and people. Also located about an hour from Middlesex County is port access to the Great Lakes’ shipping channels.

Quality of life
In the heart of southern Ontario, Middlesex County offers a rich rural-urban landscape offering a wide variety of recreation options. (Photo: Invest In Middlesex County)

Middlesex County’s recent growth patterns reflect positively on how firms are responding to what they find there. The municipality’s “prepared-to-do-business” approach is credited as one of the many reasons why companies such as Bonduelle North America, Gray Ridge Eggs, Catalent Pharma Solutions (Molnar Park), Armatec Survivability (DaVinci Park), Ideal Pipe, and Algonquin Bridge (Thorndale Park) call Middlesex home. Companies prospecting for the optimum mix of location, (including attractive property pricing) and additional amenities, strike it rich in Middlesex.

Middlesex has a growing population of 79,000 residents. Its inclusion in the Greater London Region (pop. 505,780) gives investors access to Canada’s 11th largest market (one of the largest growing in the nation). Two large educators: Western University and Fanshawe College rank as leaders in research and public/private partnerships in building the workforce of tomorrow.

Quality of life
The Middlesex Hospital Health Alliance provides family centered patient care in a rural and community-focused setting. (Photo: Invest In Middlesex County)

Middlesex County offers residents state-of-the-art healthcare facilities. The Middlesex Hospital Health Alliance (MHA) is an alliance between Four Counties Health Services and Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital. The MHA provides comprehensive family centered patient care in a rural and community-focused health service setting in collaboration and integration with local healthcare partners. The MHA is an organization of excellence through its delivery of care in a collaborative and integrated network that addresses the health care needs of the diverse local communities and the ongoing investments in people and technology.

The quality of life in Middlesex is enhanced by the celebration of arts and culture and the vibrant shopping and entertainment options. As well, short commutes, traffic that moves, fresh air, safe spaces, and active living options can all be accessed by families choosing to live there. This is a place where front porches are used, street hockey is played, and children walk to school.

Read more about how quality of life impacts economic development, corporate relocation, corporate expansion and site selection.