Mondays with Martens July 24th, 2017

A couple of years ago at an NAI Global convention, I had the opportunity to meet Chris Lee with CEL Associates, a strategic planning firm. Recently, he published a report identifying more than 25 quantifiable factors/variables (highlighted below) that should be the discerning criteria for where and why to invest and capitalize on current emerging and long-term opportunities. He believes the U.S. is becoming a latticework of connective and inter-dependent opportunities that are more cloud-based than asphalt based. The list below highlights some of the factors.


Presence of major colleges and universities

Markets exhibiting population growth

Markets of interest to investors and lenders

Presence of major hospitals and healthcare facilities

Markets with high barriers to entry

Markets with growing and sustainable job growth

Tax/business friendly markets

Markets with cultural/entrepreneurial options

Markets attractive to out of town visitors

Creative class cities

Markets with sustainable economic growth

Markets with robust transit systems

Gateway markets with linkage to other markets

Markets exhibiting economic diversifications

Markets with branded charisma

Markets attractive to Millennials

Digital infrastructure

Housing affordability

High walkability score


Presence of development incentives

Proximity to ports and logistics hubs

Capital city – but not always the case.

Entertainment and sports venues

City leaders who place community interests first


There is a difference between markets of opportunity and markets of sheer size. No market will come away with all the characteristics and obviously some overlap. However, the dynamic, growth-based markets over the next decade will be based on perceived opportunities grounded in strong market and demographic fundamentals and positive attitude for growth. From technology to healthcare, from energy to financial services and from lifestyle to exceptionalism, the U.S. is becoming a nation without boundaries. Traditional means of quantifying demand are giving way to psychology and predictive analytics. Harnessing and harvesting a range of incredible opportunities requires patience, perseverance, focus, talent and leadership.