Job Losses in Cities Mounting But Accounting Firms Prosper

Federal programs sponsored by both the Clinton and Bush administrations over a period of years have failed to stop the loss of jobs in the nation’s cities, according to a Harvard University study reported by the Associated Press. Nearly half of the country’s 82 largest municipalities lost jobs from 1995 to 2003 in comparison with surrounding metropolitan areas, only one of which lost jobs.

Michael Porter, the Harvard business professor who conducted the study said “It’s sobering. . . . It suggests that there are relatively few inner cities that are thriving in the sense of job growth.” Porter’s team found that only 10 cities added more jobs than the surrounding metropolitan areas. Cities that lost jobs lost them faster than the surrounding areas, the AP reports.

In a separate analysis, the AP found that most of the inner cities that received federal tax incentives under empowerment zone and renewal community programs lost jobs. In fact, the AP analysis found that the best-performing cities were not part of these federal programs. Experts agree that tax incentives alone will not revive the cities, the AP report says. Municipalities need to improve services and schools, build affordable housing and enact reasonable business regulations, Porter told the AP.

But in South Florida, where the market for accounting services for mid-size businesses is growing rapidly, many accounting firms located in cities are expanding to meet the demand, the South Florida Business Journal reports. The region has experienced ongoing growth in the number of businesses with international operations as well as mid-size and small businesses, according to Antionio Argiz, managing partner in Miami-based Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra.

Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra is one of four Miami-based CPA firms that have earned places in Inside Public Accounting’s national Best of the Best List, the South Florida Business Journal says.

All of the Big 4 accounting firms maintain offices in Miami as well as in Broward and/or Palm Beach counties. Grant Thornton, another firm experiencing growth in Florida, has its main South Florida office in Weston.

The Wichita Business Journal notes that the certified public accounting firm, Savage and Browning is moving from one downtown location to another.

In Dallas, home of one of the most deserted downtown business districts in the country, where office buildings emptied after oil prices dropped in 1986 and after the savings and loan crisis, officials are trying to duplicate the success of other cities like Denver and Los Angeles by converting properties in the business district to residential use, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The city hopes to attract 10,000 households, weary of the metropolitan sprawl, to the downtown residences which will in turn bring in retail and other small businesses. Dallas has already given out $160 million in grants and tax abatements for this project.

“It’s not department stores and big office buildings so much as it is people magnets, walkability, density and diversity that will bring downtown Dallas back,” says William Hudnut, an authority on municipal revitalization at the Washington-based Urban Land Institutes, the Journal reports.

The Dallas downtown area has no elementary schools or playgrounds at this date, but developers point to low housing prices as a factor in the success of the project, the Journal says. Competition from mixed-use development in outlying areas is keen, however, and may endanger the Dallas downtown project.

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