Boston’s place on the global stage

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From Lori Mabardi
New England Research Director
Jones Lang LaSalle

Last week, 300 clients of Jones Lang LaSalle joined us at the ICA in Boston for cocktails and a conversation. The topic: Boston’s place on the global stage. Our keynote speaker was Rosemary Feenan, JLL’s International Director of Global Research Programmes, who delivered a dynamic and inspiring presentation with her thoughts of “the city future” and her findings on how well Boston is weathering the global forces of change.

At the heart of Rosemary’s message is that pure GDP is no longer enough of a measure of a city’s success. We need to look at a city’s ability to evolve and recreate itself, and at its speed and adaptability. “Momentum and magnetism” are the key measures of a city’s progress today. We live in a world where one million people move to our cities each week, where 15-story buildings can be built in six days, where—in only a three year span—54 cities can rotate into the list of the top 30 Alphas Cities, and where by 2030 it is estimated that there will be one trillion dollars available to invest in commercial real estate.

As one of the world’s top 30 Alpha Cities, Boston is in good company. With a high level of cross-border investment, we are, as Rosemary stated, “punching above our weight.” And on this competitive, hyper-evolving global stage, Rosemary provided some real signs of how well Boston is performing in comparison to its’ top 30 competitors. As Bostonians, we should all be proud: we are #1 in innovation, #1 in education and #9 in capital flows.

Rosemary reviewed the next level of cities coming up quickly behind Boston. These “new pretenders” are innovating at a rapid pace, building their reputations as high-tech clusters and centers of excellence. We learned about Berlin and Stockholm, Shanghai, Toronto and Santiago (have you ever heard of Chilicon Valley?) and Tel Aviv that is rapidly outpacing other cities in patent activity. This information alerted and awakened us all to the fact that the race is on! While Boston has the lead in many respects, we need to make decisions today that secure our position for decades to come.

Rosemary ended the evening by reminding us what an important role we all have as commercial real estate professionals in shaping Boston’s future. Boston is well positioned to see more #1’s and we are now challenged to make them a reality.

I swear, as I sat in the audience at that moment, I heard a little whisper…it was Boston. And it said “bring it on!”

We would be happy to share a video of Rosemary’s presentation. Please reach out to your JLL contact, or feel free to send an email to me, the New England Director of Research, at

Rosemary Feenan has spent most of her distinguished career studying cities, what makes them tick and evolve, and most of all: win.
Boston ranks #9 globally on JLL’s Investibility Index, which measures the risk, liquidity, transparence, and internationalism of a city’s commercial real estate.


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