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Common Ground Blog

Median Income vs. Median Rent Heat Maps

Median Income vs. Median Rent Heat Maps – business site location analysis tools

Income Rent BalanceWe hear a lot about the real estate market these days and how fluctuating costs are impacting local economies. If your business relies on minimum wage employees, for example, it will be more difficult to maintain a workforce if located in an area with high rents. Likewise, your business needs to be accessible to consumers who can afford your products or services. Furthermore, locating your business in a debt-strapped area could suppress earnings potential.

Kwelia, a company that provides competitive intelligence for the real estate market has created an interactive online heat mapping service at the census tract level. The heat maps allow you to quickly visualize median income, median rent per sq/ft., and most importantly, the combined effect of median rent as a percentage of median income. The maps are available for nearly every metro market in the U.S.

Showcased below is the median income / median rent for the southern portion of the Silicon Valley. The highlighted track (pointing cursor) includes Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, CA. The median rental share of income in this region is a comfortable 16.6%. San Joaquin Valley to the east, on the other hand, at 46.2%, leaves residents with much less disposable income.

Median Income:

Source: Kwelia.com

Source: Kwelia.com

Median Rent/sq.ft.

Source: Kwelia.com

Source: Kwelia.com

Median Rental Share of Income

Source: Kwelia.com

Source: Kwelia.com

We’ve zoomed in on this same area and applied our GeoMetrx 2013 household income by census tract with an overlay of the top computer and electronic product manufacturers (annual sales over $1 million). You can see there is certainly a lot of competition for well-qualified employees which draws talent to the area and keeps salary levels (e.g. income levels) competitive as well. There is a symbiotic relationship between business activity and the real estate market. However, as the balance shifts between these two forces, the impact can be enormous as we saw in 2008, and the years following as the real estate market has struggled to regain its footing amid the long-running economic downturn.

2013 Median HH Income by Census Tract -- Top Computer & Electronic Product Manufacturers (NAICS 3341)w/Sales $1MM+Source: GeoMetrix.com

2013 Median HH Income by Census Tract —
Top Computer & Electronic Product Manufacturers (NAICS 3341)w/Sales $1MM+
Source: GeoMetrix.com

For a complete retail site selection analysis, consumer profiling and/or market analysis, our GeoMetrx web-based mapping software is loaded with rich demographic data, competitive business data and much more. If you are planning to start a new business, open additional offices or retail locations, or expand your franchise offerings, GeoMetrx can help maximize your decision making portfolio. Call us at 1.888.848.4436 for more information or request a custom demo today.

Meal Preparation: “Don’t Have Time” Heat Map – Service Franchise Opportunity

Meal Preparation: “Don’t Have Time”

Busy MomAs a society, time is a commodity of which we never seem to have enough. One of the casualties of lack of time is the shrinking number of families spending time together around the dinner table enjoying homemade meals. Meal preparation businesses are growing in popularity to fill this gap in our lives.

The map below depicts the number of people (Adult Pop 18+, 2013), by county, that have reported they “do not have the time to prepare and eat a healthy meal.” The amount of people in this situation increases from light yellow to dark blue. This is just one of many attitudinal and behavioral data sets available within  our GeoMetrx mapping application.

Combining such data along with demographics and a view of the  competitive landscape is an extremely useful resource for determining market potential. GeoMetrx has a rich database of all three data types.​

2013.12 Meal Preparation No TimeClick here to see a larger version of this map

GeoMetrx has the tools you need to assess the opportunities, locate the ideal site location, and evaluate the competition. For more information on how to obtain access to GeoMetrx tools and datasets, contact us today at 1.888.848.4436.

Meal Preparation Business – A Recipe for Success

Meal Preparation Business – A Recipe for Success

Family MealThe holidays are once again upon us and our busy factor is in overdrive! With the exception of a big holiday meal, we often find ourselves sacrificing time spent with our families around the dinner table. Studies show there are many great benefits of eating together, such as bonding through conversation, teaching children good manners, and more.

 “The family who eats together, stays together” 

A growing trend helping families reclaim time at the table is the meal preparation segment of the food industry. Meal preparation services come in many forms for those who lack the time to shop and prepare dinner each night. While meal preparation businesses may vary Food Preparationin the individual services provided, they all have in common the opportunity for families to purchase homemade meals, whether they will be consumed within several days or frozen for future use. Services range from simply providing the ingredients and work space, which allows customers to assemble their own meals, to preparing entire meals that only require reheating.

Most meal preparation businesses provide 2, 4 or 6 serving meals. Customers can typically purchase a single meal or enough for several weeks at one time. Many of these businesses are taking advantage of the web and allowing their customers to make appointments and order online, which has the added advantage of improved resource allocation and inventory control. Some of the services a meal preparation business may provide include:

  • Recipe creation
  • Menu planning
  • Ingredient preparation
  • Customer workspace
  • Full meal preparation
  • Meal delivery

Homemade MealMany of these services start out as home businesses, with the sole proprietor working out of their own family kitchen, and eventually expanding to a commercial kitchen as the business grows. A successful meal preparation business can easily become a franchise opportunity, as well, for a small business owner. In fact, it is likely the best recipe for success in this market segment as a single meal preparation business location will eventually be limited by its geographical reach.

If you enjoy food and working with others, starting a meal preparation business may be just the right small business choice. At GeoMetrx, our sales and franchise territory alignment application is the right tool to help you start a business or grow an existing business. In addition to managing your business territories, our service can provide an in-depth location and demographic analysis, market opportunity, and a view of the competitive landscape. Call us at 1.888.848.4436 or visit us on the web to request a demo today.

Best Satellite Image of 2013?

Best Satellite Image of 2013?

GlobeCameraWant to vote for your favorite image of the year from Digital Globe? The top 20 images have been narrowed to 5, and you can like your favorite(s) on their Facebook page. Voting is open until the end of the year (12/31/13). These are some pretty neat satellite images. How exactly did the photographer create the optical illusion of the Snake River that makes it look as if it is sitting above the surrounding terrain anyway?

Snake River - Digital Globe Photo Contest 2013

The top 20 images were all pretty neat as well. Click here to see the DigitalGlobe Top 20 Album.

Home Decor – An Improving Market

Home Decor – An ‘Improving’ Market

Home Decor StorefrontWhat many are now calling the ‘Great Recession’ that began in earnest in late 2008, continues to have far-reaching affects on the US and world economies. Signs of recovery are evident in many sectors, including the home decor market, which is ‘improving’ (pun intended!). The improvement is partially in response to the lagging housing market.

Along with many other industries and markets, the US housing market continues to show signs of recovery, yet it is far from what could be considered a full recovery. The number of overall existing home sales is up in 2013, vs. 2012, but the most recent report (Sept. 2013 data) showed a slight reduction in the number of sales over the previous month. Levels are still well below pre-recession activity:

Existing Home Sales Chart

Many Americans have changed their long term outlook on home ownership, and remodeling our current homes rather than upgrading to larger homes has never been more popular. Families are choosing to stay put and rework the spaces they already have. Home DIY Wall Paperingimprovement is something people have long enjoyed, but the desire to stretch our dollars further, combined with a bent for living a more sustainable lifestyle has pumped new life and energy into both the home improvement industry and home décor market. The home décor market, estimated to be a $65.2 billion annual segment, continues to thrive.

Fueled by the popularity of do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvement television shows, people are tapping into their own creativity to maximize and customize their living spaces.  Home improvement, home décor and home furnishing stores have been experiencing tremendous growth in the last decade. In addition to the change in home ownership attitude, another major factor contributing to the Paint Supply Setsuccess of many of these businesses is improved products and marketing, particularly pre-packaged kits with all the needed supplies bundled together. These kits make it easy for inexperienced homeowners to be successful in their projects, and much less frustrated!

As homeowners remodel and update existing spaces, they often choose to refurnish and accessorize these rooms with brand new items to match their freshly painted walls and gleaming new floors. This trend is being reflected through increased sales for home furnishing and home décor stores. Ready-made and attractive decorative accessories are very popular, and homeowners can mix and match pieces together to make unique and affordable spaces. Many direct sales home decor businesses have been booming as well such as PartyLite, Celebrating Home and Rendi, to name a few. These businesses have very easy entrance points for sole proprietors.

Many home furnishing stores are franchises, so whether you are interested in becoming a franchisee of an existing business or starting up your own chain of stores to franchise, GeoMetrx can provide an in-depth location analysis including an understanding of the competitive landscape. Call us at 1.888.848.4436 or visit us on the web to request a demo today.

New Beach Front Property? If all the ice melted…

When it comes to global warming, or rather the new, more PC term, climate change, there is one main theme – rising temperatures of both land and sea. While the debate rages on whether this threat is real or perceived, or whether it’s human induced or a natural geological cycle, one thing is certain, the earth is changing. But then it always has been and likely always will,  and this keeps our scientists very busy indeed!

In the September 2013 issue of National Geographic, a map was created in response to the question many of us have asked in recent years – “What if all the ice melted?” Well, for starters, the sea would rise an estimated 216 feet, and the most dramatic effect in the U.S. can be observed in Florida… er, wait, there would be NO Florida!!! Along with that, we would lose much of the rest of the Gulf Coast, as well as the entire Atlantic seaboard, San Diego, and more.

If All the Ice Melted - US

JASON TREAT, MATTHEW TWOMBLY, WEB BARR, MAGGIE SMITH, NGM STAFF. ART: KEES VEENENBOS.
SOURCES: PHILIPPE HUYBRECHTS, VRIJE UNIVERSITEIT BRUSSEL; RICHARD S. WILLIAMS, JR., WOODS HOLE RESEARCH CENTER; JAMES C. ZACHOS, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ; USGS; NOAA, ETOPO1 BEDROCK, 1 ARC-MINUTE GLOBAL RELIEF MODEL COPYRIGHT © SEPTEMBER 2013 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY

But before those of us slightly inland from our current shorelines reassess our property values, it’s going to take awhile to melt the more than five million cubic miles of ice on Earth. According to National Geographic, “some scientists say it would take more than 5,000 years to melt it all. If we continue adding carbon to the atmosphere, we’ll very likely create an ice-free planet, with an average temperature of perhaps 80 degrees Fahrenheit instead of the current 58.” To see more, click on this link, or on the map above to view the affect on each of the continents.

Hurricane, Typhoon, or Cyclone? Location, Location, Location!

Philippines Map Haiyan

Weather around the world continues to be wild and unpredictable. Our hearts go out to everyone in the Philippines affected by super-Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) that made landfall on Nov. 8, 2013. The death toll has reached 4,000 and continues to climb. An estimated 9 to 13 million people have been affected by the storm in 44 provinces, 536 municipalities and 55 cities. The hardest hit city was Tacloban on the island of Leyte. The storm is one of the most powerful ever recorded.

The Western Pacific has the highest frequency of tropical cyclones (typhoons) north of the equator and experts fear more storms of similar magnitude are likely in the future. According to the Asian Development Bank, while the average number of cyclones per year has not risen significantly, the severity of individual events has increased due to rising temperatures of both the air and sea. The impact of damage from storm surge has increased as well given rising sea levels in the region.

In the aftermath, and from halfway around the world, my daughter asked what exactly was a typhoon. I explained to her it was just a different name for a hurricane, which got me to thinking, why are they different, and how does one know? I went searching for answers and found this graphic from David Simmer II’s Blography site.

TropicalStormNameMapDavid had this to say about his map: “It’s not a perfect map, of course… but it basically boils down like this: Historical British colonial regions like India and Australia use “Cyclone.” The Americas use “Hurricane.” Asia uses “Typhoon.” There are variations on all those. And, of course, local languages have many different names in their native tongues.”  The NOAA defines the location of these storms similarly: “In the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific, the term “hurricane” is used; a similar disturbance in the Northwest Pacific is called a “typhoon” and “cyclones” occur in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean.”

All these storms are initially referred to as tropical storms once winds reach a sustained 39 mph. The tropical storms are then given an actual name by the World Meteorological Organization, using forenames familiar in each region. The Philippines has its own naming system as well, hence Haiyan to the world, and Yolanda locally. Tropical storms become either a hurricane, typhoon or cyclone when winds reach a sustained 74 mph. As the storms escalate they can range from Category 1 (weakest) to Category 5 (strongest), except in Australia which has its own system for categorizing strength.

But back to the question… Why the different names (hurricane, typhoon, cyclone) for these storms? Well, it comes down to the same thing: location, or more precisely the regional influence on the local language. In a nutshell, here is the basic etymology of the three storms from dictionary.com:

Hurricane – Spanish (1545-55) huracán, and the Taino (an extinct Arawakan Indian tribe of the West Indies) hurakán 

Typhoon – Chinese (1580-90); akin to Chinese dàfēng, meaning great wind; altered by association with Greek typhôn, meaning violent wind.

Cyclone – introduced by British meteorologist Henry Piddington in 1848, perhaps from the Greek kyklôn, meaning revolving, and apparently confused by Piddington with kýklōma, meaning wheel or snake’s coil

While these storms are the same in cause and nature, there are some other interesting differences among hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones:

hurricane – The direction of the rotation of the storm depends on whether they occur north or south of the equator – clockwise if north and counter-clockwise if south.

– Seasons vary by location with the Atlantic and central Pacific hurricane season ranging from May to November; the south Pacific and Australia cyclone season ranging from November to April; and the northwestern Pacific typhoon season ranging nearly year-round.

– Frequency of northwest Pacific typhoons is the greatest with an average of 27 storms per season, while the average number of Atlantic hurricanes per season is 11.

No matter what you call them or where they occur, these storms can pack a real punch and are very dangerous. The power of Mother Nature is awesome and should never be underestimated.

 

 

 

 

Youth Sports Industry – A Growing Opportunity

Youth Sports Industry –  A Growing Opportunity

Fall BaseballOctober brings with it many wonderful happenings. The leaves are changing colors; kids, both young and old, are partaking in Halloween festivities; and sports are in the air. Baseball fans are enjoying the post-season with its play-offs and World Series match-ups; and football fans are gathering on weekends to root for their favorite teams. There are few things more American than fall baseball and football.

Professional sports is big business. Inspired by their idols in the big leagues, many kids hope to become the stars of tomorrow, and as a result the youth sports industry is growing by leaps and bounds. Kids have always participated in games and sports; however, the face Basketball Driveway Idleof youth sports has changed greatly over the last decade or two. Gone are the days of pick-up ballgames in empty sandlots, two-on-two in the driveway, or playing hockey in the street with sticks and rocks. Youth sports have become a network of independent organizations, competitive regional leagues, travel teams and tournament play, with parents, coaches, league organizers, referees and tournament operators organizing both practices and competition.

The National Council of Youth Sports (NYCS), reports more than 60 million boys and girls are registered in programs across the country. The most recent data from the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) estimates nearly 70% of children (age 6-17) in the U.S. are playing team sports and three out of four teenagers are playing at least one team sport. While there is much debate surrounding the direction youth sports have taken, there is no arguing that opportunities to score big are rampant for innovative entrepreneurs. The team travel segment of youth sports is estimated to be $7 billion alone. Local communities are benefactors of the economic activity generated by the growing travel team phenomenon as well.

The “travel team” stratum of youth sports in particular has exploded in the last twenty years.Travel teams grew out of recreational league play, as players, parents and coaches sought more and better venues in which to compete. The teams mushroomed in Winning Teampopularity as new leagues were formed to promote their play, tournaments proliferated to match the best against the best and large indoor facilities multiplied in suburban areas permitting year-round training and competition. (Fullinwider, 2006)

Many leagues are grassroots organizations formed and operated by parents through local schools, churches or other community outlets. However, that too is expanding with companies such as i9, a youth sports league franchise. Based in Tampa, Florida, i9 provides sports leagues, camps and clinics for children ages 3-17, including flag football, soccer, basketball, T-Ball and even cheerleading. The company’s tagline: “traditional kids sports leagues without the traditional headaches!”

Parents are often overwhelmed by the demands on their time, and for many, the option to pay a participation fee and let others run the show can be a welcome opportunity. It also removes parents from coaching and refereeing positions, which can be a source of tension for many.

Today’s parents are busier than ever because in most households both work.  Additionally, we live in a world where all of our kid’s activities are scheduled and supervised.  Parents are constantly looking for new activities to engage, educate, exercise, and entertain their kids.  Today’s parent also demands great service, a great product, and great communication AND is willing to pay for it. Meanwhile, legacy youth sports leagues operate the same way they did twenty-five years ago. As in any industry today, there is room for an innovator. (Steve Cox, i9 Sports Franchise Owner)

Other opportunities to capitalize on the growing youth sports industry include:

  • Sporting Good AssortmentNew and Used Equipment Stores
    • ​as kids outgrow their equipment or change sports, there is plenty of used equipment deserving of a second wind
  • Photography/Videography Services
    • parents also enjoy capturing their kids’ big moments and team membership on film — weekend photographers can carve out a very lucrative niche taking team photos, individual portraits and live action shots
  • Online Management Tools/Apps
    • managing registrations, fees, scheduling, logistics, team stats, rosters, and even background checks for volunteers can be cumbersome, and innovate thinkers are providing powerful online tools to help grassroots organizations
  • Local / Regional Sports Media Content Providers
    • streaming video of local and regional games is becoming big business, especially in rural communities where high school sports teams often take on a bigger role in the absence of professional sports found in larger metro areas

Sports PhotographerHere is a great article highlighting some specific companies within these niches of the growing youth sports industry. Another group, The Sports & Education Expo, is planning to hold shows around the country to bring resources and information about youth sports to athletes, parents, coaches, directors and more. The first show is scheduled for Dec 13-15, 2013 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

For any current or prospective entrepreneurs interested in the youth sports industry, GeoMetrx can provide an in-depth location analysis including an understanding of the competitive landscape. Call us at 1.888.848.4436 or visit us on the web to request a demo today.

Daylight Saving Time – Why do we do it?

DST FallMany of us are spending this week adjusting to the end of Daylight Saving Time (DST), having moved our clocks back one hour this past weekend.  Some of us are able to leap out of bed a little more easily in the morning when the alarm clock blares, with the rested feeling that comes from sneaking that “extra” hour, only to find ourselves battling the eyelids during the nightly news. Soon enough, however, our systems will adjust. In the meantime, we once again question the whole concept of shifting time. When did it begin and why do we do it?

Well, for starters, we aren’t alone. The United States, along with 70 other countries, observe some form of daylight saving, and the practice of adjusting our daily schedules to that of the sun can be traced back to ancient civilizations. The purpose, then and now, was and is to get the best use out of the daylight hours. As the earth rotates around the sun annually, the length of daylight grows and shortens accordingly.

Burning CandleBen Franklin is credited with the idea of instituting an actual daylight saving program. In 1784, during a stay in Paris, he published an essay “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light,” in a local paper.  Despite his experiments with electricity, this essay was not aimed at saving electricity, but rather economizing the use of candles! If you have a few moments, the essay is highly entertaining.

DST WWI PosterOther proposed plans followed over the ensuing years and decades. World War I brought about the first official observance of a DST plan in Germany, such that fuel could be diverted from providing artificial light and saved for the war effort. Many countries on both sides of the conflict, including the U.S. and Britain, adopted similar plans. However, these were eliminated following the war. It wasn’t until World War II that DST plans were once again used by many countries in an effort to ration vital energy resources.

Here is an interesting WWII historical tidbit about time zone naming conventions from Time and Date.com:

‘President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted year-round DST in the United States, called “War Time” during World War II from February 9, 1942 to September 30, 1945. The law was enforced 40 days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and during this time, time zones were called “Eastern War Time”, “Central War Time”, and “Pacific War Time”. After the surrender of Japan in mid-August 1945, the time zones were relabeled “Peace Time”.’

Following the war, the concept of DST was not uniformly adopted in the U.S., and much confusion ensued. States and local municipalities could choose when and if they wanted to participate. Finally, Congress passed the the Uniform Time Act of 1966 and DST was officially established to begin on the last Sunday of April and end on the last Sunday of October. Though still optional, most of the U.S. observes DST except for Hawaii, Arizona*, and the US insular areas of Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam.

*Arizona’s Navajo Indian Nation observes DST.

Time Zone Map

Of course, nothing ever stays the same, and there have been myriad changes to the DST schedule since its inception. In the mid-70s, DST was expanded in hopes of saving energy during the 1973 oil embargo. When the crisis was over, DST reverted to its original schedule. In the late 80s, DST was expanded one month (first Sunday in April). And most recently, in response to the Energy Act of 2005, DST was once again expanded starting in 2007. It now begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November.

The biannual ritual of ‘springing ahead’ and ‘falling back’ remains controversial. Besides the struggle to adjust and that one person in your life who invariably misses an event in the spring or shows up ridiculously early in the fall, many complain for other reasons. Ironically, one of the more widely held concerns is that dark winter mornings endanger the lives of children School Bus Darkgoing to school. Winter hours, however, are STANDARD time, not DST!!!  Others believe that changing times affects humans negatively and that in the initial period following the adjustment there is an increase of car accidents, workplace injuries, heart attacks, and cluster headaches. Why, you ask? Experts report that our circadian rhythms, which control the release of certain hormones that affect our moods, hunger patterns, and desire for sleep, get thrown out of whack by just a one hour adjustment, just think about that ‘jet lag’ feeling you get when you travel to another time zone. Eventually, we adjust, but many argue we should either adopt DST year round, or do away with it all together. What do you think?

Climate Data – Particulate Matter Index

Climate Data: Particulate Matter Index

Location – Location – Location; the age-old advice when opening a business is just as true today as it has ever been. There are many factors to take into consideration from property accessibility to a well-matched customer base to operating costs and more. Additionally, environmental conditions and regulations can also play a significant role when making location decisions.

If you have an outdoor business concept, your customers and employees can be impacted by air pollution. Our climate dataset includes five air pollution indexes: Carbon Monoxide; Lead; Nitrogen Dioxide; Ozone; and Particulate Matter. Below is a map of the US depicting areas of particulate matter pollution at the county level. Areas with a lower propensity for this type of pollution are shown in light yellow, while those with higher propensities are shown in dark orange.

2013.08 Particulate Matter Index

GeoMetrx has the tools you need to assess the opportunities, locate the ideal site location, and evaluate the competition. For more information on how to obtain access to GeoMetrx tools and datasets, contact us today at 1.888.848.4436.