Attracting a Site Selector - Economic Development Organizations
Using a content first, then design approach for a website, having an optimized mobile version of a website, emphasizing workforce skills and workforce development, effective brand messaging, and aligning key stakeholders around a common vision are five techniques an economic development organization can use to attract a site selector.
Content First, Then Design
- Using a content first, then design approach helps provide quick access to concise information about the economic health of a region. It gives site selectors the information they need to complete their due diligence process as they research where to invest.
- Immediate access to information that demonstrates and confirms a region's health is paramount as that can impact a possible investment decision. Investors will be seeking specific details that give thought to the success of the economic region. This could, for example, be a breakdown of economic sectors, workforce data and available incentive programs in the area.
- The number one priority of a website should be to convince the site selectors that the region is the right place for them. This can be helped along by telling a convincing narrative about the economic region by zeroing in on content surrounding the economic investors throughout the website. A best practice is to offer targeted up to date information like demographics, real estate and construction data, and the reputation of the region.
A Mobile Version of a Website
- Since mobile has now surpassed fixed Internet access as predicted, it's more critical than ever to have a great mobile site. In fact, mobile provides a sizable competitive advantage when trying to attract site selectors who are always on the go.
- 25% of economic development website visitors are using a mobile device.
- 90 percent of site selection consultants utilize the internet for site and planning information, and it’s clear that many of them use a mobile browser to do that. In fact, half of web traffic comes from mobile devices. Location consultants, due to the nature of their job, will be on the road for big chunks of time. Optimizing a website for mobile and tablet traffic will make reviewing the website a pleasure, and not a pain.
Emphasize Workforce Skills and Workforce Development
- According to Site Selection magazine, "workforce skills and workforce development are site selectors' first and third most important location criteria."
- Transportation infrastructure is the second most important criteria.
- According to Joshua Wright, Emsi's vice president, economic and workforce development. "Many local economic developers are now more focused on people attraction than business attraction. The labor market is that tight. The Talent Attraction Scorecard gives large and small communities the chance to benchmark their efforts in recruiting skilled workers to their cities and towns."
- Economic development specialists say the recipe for enticing and then keeping high-value companies "has a new main ingredient: an abundant, specially trained and motivated workforce."
- Perhaps the single most important thing to understand in regard to attracting site selectors is to stand out. Differentiation is important. Make the messaging clear and unambiguous, in other words, come right out and tell site selectors and business decision makers what it is that makes the community unique and perfectly suited to their requirements and desires.
- An essential part of clear messaging is having a firm understanding of what types of businesses and industries are ideally suited for the region. No one single area is a good fit for everyone. Define the region’s advantages and strengths and then determine what industries would benefit. Expand the study to related verticals, industries that thrive in the presence of the core target, and include them, as well.
Align Key Stakeholders Around a Common Vision
- Companies looking for locations expect a welcoming attitude. This obviously starts with the state and local economic-development teams, but if it isn't carried forward with representatives from affected jurisdictions, business groups, local utilities, workforce organizations, educational institutions and others, it means that a location stands to be removed from consideration.
- Making sure that local stakeholders are educated on the purpose and value of the organization is a critical role of the economic developer. Their endorsement of the mission is the power source that makes the economic-development engine run.
- "No economic development organization is an island. You need buy-in from your stakeholders and government partners. Their engagement and support are critical and working together closely makes a world of difference as you strive to achieve your economic development goals."