National Site Selection Trends

Posted on Nov 20, 2014

Atlanta Site Selector VisitedEmily Braunwart, business recruitment manager at the Grant County EDC, recently returned from Atlanta, GA, where she met with nine site selector companies.  Braunwart traveled with Robin Toth Vice President of Business Development for Greater Spokane Inc. The trip was a joint effort to share information about Eastern Washington and learn what companies are looking for in potential expansion sites.

“After visiting with several companies we started to see some common themes emerging in terms of what business are looking for in a community,” said Braunwart. “A few of the key items that kept coming up meeting after meeting included business parks, existing buildings, pre-permitted sites, transportation and workforce.”

Business parks that have ready to go utilities and permits are very attractive to expanding businesses. Companies would like to see parks with water, sewer and electrical already located directly on site. Business parks that have an existing spec building have even more appeal because it provides a vision of what the park will look like when it's built out and full of tenants.

Sites that have already started the process of water and air permitting also rise to the top of prospective locations. Having this work started the company will have to spend less time to get its new facility up and running. More importantly this demonstrates that the community understands there is a timeframe for most projects and that companies do not want to start from scratch if it takes an additional 15 months of permitting prior to starting to build.

Access to interstates and rail is a concern for companies.  Companies need to be assured that logistics of the industry will be met. The more options for moving product in to the facility and out to customers the better.

Being able to show that the region has a strong labor force and a great working relationship with the local community college is also important to growing businesses. They want to know there is a dependable and trainable work force pool available as well as a committed training partner in the community.

Incentives were talked about, but not in the way expected. Companies are primarily looking for flexibility when it comes to incentives. “They want to know that the region is willing to find creative solutions to help them locate in the area,” said Braunwart. “It was interesting to hear how other states were working with companies to meet their needs. The communities that are enticing companies to their area are doing more than just giving cash."

Communities that rise to the top of the list address each of these areas ensure their location has what businesses need including, utilities, a quickly trained work force, smooth permitting, and logistics.

A final word of advice from the site selectors was to increase our marketing effort for the region. “Many of the people we visited with knew that eastern Washington is different from the Seattle and other areas in the northwest, but most did not know the specifics, said Braunwart. “We will have more recruitment success as we let companies and site selectors know about our assets, such as moderate weather, available land, the community college, our proximity to the I-5 corridor, access to intermodal facilities, and the international airport.