Site Selector Attraction Analysis

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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."

Brand Messaging

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."
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Site Selector Thought Leaders - How to Improve Economic Development Plans

According to Angelos Angelou, innovation is not just for the big EDO players, and a daily visit to LinkedIn enables him to reach and engage potential leads, as well as regions and EDOs that he is engaging with and interested in. Dan Levine believes the five factors to consider once a target area has been defined are the availability of property, recruitment and training of workers, cost and reliability of utility services, state and local taxes, and the regulatory climate.
  • Angelos Angelou is the principal executive officer of Angelou Economics, which is one of the United States leading economic development and site selection firms.
  • He insists that "the most innovative economic development organizations have newsletters that are specifically created for site selection professionals, and they're filled with the sorts of details I'm always enjoy finding. These are incredibly valuable compared to the standard generic newsletter. That sort of specificity matters."
  • Mr. Angelou feels that innovation is not exclusive to the big EDO players. "Take, for example, Hudson, Ohio. Hudson figured out some time ago that they could become the place that C-Suiters from Cleveland choose to live, and it's paid off brilliantly. Every time I visit this place I'm reminded of Switzerland. It's clean, they've built a great quality of place, and the overall community is very attractive. Those sorts of high-quality communities matter for places like Hudson, and they've done a very nice job."
  • For Angelos, LinkedIn is a daily must, and other site selectors also regularly check in. "I use LinkedIn every day. I have over 8k followers and connections. I use it as a way to reach and engage potential leads, as well as regions and EDOs that I'm engaging with and interested in. I follow EDOs and representatives from different regions to see what they put out on the platform. I really do enjoy the platform and use it every single day."
  • Dan Levine, is practice leader, location strategies and economic development, for Oxford Economics, Inc.
  • According to Mr. Levine, there are five factors to consider once a target area has been defined. Availability of property, recruitment and training of workers, cost and reliability of utility services, state and local taxes, and the regulatory climate.
  • Kelley Rendziperis is principal and leader of the economic incentive division of Site Selection Group. She has "spent her entire career negotiating, procuring and providing compliance services for discretionary and statutory economic incentives."
  • According to Ms. Rendziperis, "the most overlooked aspect of a successful economic incentive package is the establishment of a comprehensive compliance process, which is why it has been reported that more than half of companies awarded economic incentives never fully realize the benefits."
  • She writes that this can be "averted or mitigated by proactively taking measures before an issue arises by establishing an economic incentive compliance process which includes the following: creation of an economic incentive compliance team, reviewing all economic development agreements or memorandums of understanding, and investing in an economic incentive management system."
  • She concludes by writing: "By bringing the right resources to the table, communicating incentive requirements consistently and early in the process to all interested parties and establishing effective tracking and monitoring systems, a company can ensure it maximizes its economic incentive portfolio to its full potential."
  • Joseph Parilla, Fellow at The Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, while not a site selector thought leader, wrote a paper called EXAMINING THE LOCAL VALUE OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INCENTIVES, which provides evidence from four U.S. cities (Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Salt Lake County, and San Diego) surrounding a framework for inclusive economic development to help leaders analyze and evolve their incentive policies.
  • This was included to provide additional insights and added value.
  • The report's key findings include: One: Economic development incentives remain a core aspect of local and state economic development policy. Two: Incentives have come under renewed scrutiny from both academic researchers and the public. Three: Cities should target incentives based on core principles of inclusive economic development. Four: Economic development leaders should ensure incentives policies align with broader economic objectives, embrace public transparency and rigorous evaluation, and only target firms that advance broad-based opportunity.

From Part 01