EY - Infrastructure 2014: shaping the competitive city

Infrastructure 2014: shaping the competitive city

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Infrastructure—the physical facilities and systems that support economic activity—is often seen as a driver of real estate and development, especially by those who are in the business of providing it. But do the people actually building and investing in real estate agree? The Infrastructure 2014 survey tells us “yes”—and a number of other interesting things as well.

When it comes to real estate investment, what role does infrastructure play in determining where development happens? How important is it, in relation to other factors like consumer demand, workforce quality, tax policies, and the regulatory environment? And how do civic and real estate leaders think about the quality of various types of infrastructure, and investment priorities for the future?

For Infrastructure 2014: Shaping the Competitive City, we set out to answer these questions and others, in order to build a more complete understanding of how infrastructure fits into the larger real estate investment picture, and to get a sense of what public and private leaders want and expect from infrastructure in the cities they work in and care about. The report is a collaborative effort between EY and the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit research and education organization.

Nearly every city aspires to grow. High-quality infrastructure—infrastructure that is well maintained, reliable, safe, resilient, and customer friendly—contributes to well-functioning, growth-primed cities, cities that attract new residents and retain existing ones.

On many of the questions asked, there was strong convergence between the public and private sector respondents, and between U.S. and global ones. Where differences emerge, it is hoped that mutual learning and dialogue can help advance the conversation about the role that infrastructure plays in shaping and promoting growth.


Infrastructure 2014: Shaping the Competitive City surveyed key decision makers in the public and private sectors who influence real estate investment in cities and towns in the United States and around the world. Survey respondents included:

  • 241 public sector leaders in local and regional government, and private organizations working on local and regional economic development. Public sector officials included elected, appointed, and staff/career representatives.
  • 202 private developers, investors, lenders, and advisers, including senior-level executives and managers. Private sector respondents were asked to identify a metropolitan region with which they were familiar, and the location of the region they listed classified them for this survey as U.S. or global.
  • Approximately 86 percent of the survey respondents were considered to be U.S.-based respondents; 14 percent were global.

Survey findings were augmented by interviews with survey respondents. Quotes in this report are from those interviews; to encourage candor, quotes have not been attributed.