Telecommuting and Satellite Cities

Smaller satellite cities throughout the Midwest may have an advantage that they have yet to realize: strong bases for telecommuters. Cities such as Iowa City, IA; Albert Lea, MN; and Hastings, NE have this advantage, where over four percent of the city’s population works from home according to American Community Survey’s information from 2009. The average rates for larger metros tended to be in the mid 3% range. Here are a few Midwestern cities that were of note:


% Population working from home

Albert Lea, MN


Athens, OH


Brainerd, MN


Dubuque, IA


Freeport, IL


Hastings, NE


Iowa City, IA


La Crosse, WI


Source:  U.S. Census American Community Survey, 2009

These cities have similar attributes: relatively small populations, mostly remote locations, and within 200 miles of a large metro. These characteristics may be a foundation for increased telecommunication in these cities. Could these cities one day become far-flung constituents of a larger conurbation?

For example, of the eight cities cited above, three of them could call Chicago their focal city. Other cities that act as cardinal municipalities in this list are Madison, Minneapolis, and Omaha. While millions from the labor force pile into large, over-populated metros throughout the Midwest for work, others may be able to find integral employment in these smaller regions, while still in close enough proximity to benefit from the larger markets.

Telecommuting may also have a positive affect on the quality of life of the individuals who take advantage of the opportunity. A smaller city often makes for lower costs, cheaper housing, less time driving from place to place, and more access to the community. On top of this, rising oil prices have less affect on the telecommuter. Furthermore, some of the cities listed are in an optimal location for natural amenities of the region to be factored in. For instance, Brainerd’s prime location amidst a plethora of lakes and forestry helps to add to the city’s natural lure, while remaining twice daily flight or a 130 mile drive to downtown Minneapolis. 

If these satellite cities can adapt to be friendly to telecommuters, they may be able to help strengthen the regional economies with a more specialized, more productive workforce. Businesses in the area must be inclined to initiate telecommuting as a part of their workforce and have trust in their workers. A smaller community may make this an opportune place for this, as it forms a more cohesive social unity amongst citizens.

If these smaller places can maintain reasonable air and telecommunications access, affordable housing, high-end schools and child care, and perhaps flexible small office space or business assistance for lone eagle entrepreneurs, these places could become hubs for this growing segment of workers.  However, the big incentive for those desiring and learning about telecommuting work may simply be the opportunity to do important work in their pajamas.

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Rural communities don't have the advocacy that the large cities enjoy. It's a lot easier to demonize those residents as mere rubes who wouldn't know how to enjoy any measure of propserity whitley residences

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There are a lot of people

There are a lot of people working from home. This way home workers can spend more time with their families and they can also save money.