Site selection consultants serve corporations and communities by supporting potential economic development expansions by companies and providing key insights to communities as to what it takes to retain and attract high-wage jobs. A recent Wall Street Journal story provided some insights into the corporate site location consulting industry that are worthy of further discussion.
Our firm provides corporate site location services and recently is negotiating deals in Ohio, Arizona, Missouri and reviewed many other states as part of that process. Our leadership negotiated over $1 B worth of economic development deals, taught economic development law and policy as an adjunct professor and published two textbooks on the topic. We focus on corporate site location because it fulfills our hope for economic success for companies and communities. How do we achieve such a mission?
First, we utilize a data driven corporate site location process that starts with listening to our clients. Data is gathered directly from our clients about their industry, business model, short and long term business plans, site and workforce needs and any other issues they have that creates a sustainable competitive advantage. A particular focus is paid to what needs they have from a facility, site and workforce standpoint as currently these issues present that largest challenge with the successful completion of a corporate site location project.
Second, we believe tax incentives are the icing and not the cake for a corporate site location project. Before tax incentives are negotiated, corporate site location consultants research the economic success of a number of markets by reviewing economic, population, and income growth and poverty and unemployment rates. Next, available sites and workforce studies narrow the list of communities that should be considered. Following this data driven research process, a small group of communities are considered for a discussion about tax incentives—most of which are performance based with job creation triggering the incentives.
Third, we use the corporate site location process to push policy makers to address regional economic conditions. Public policy makers set tax rates, adopt labor policies, create a pool of skilled labor, invest in infrastructure, and foster entrepreneurism all to build a growing economic market. Public policy makers that support the creation of booming markets produce high-growth regions that often don’t provide the level of tax incentives many other places do. Often, communities with the largest incentive package are working to address a high cost of doing and slow economic growth driven by high business tax rates, labor, construction, and real estate costs.
Finally, while we are not members of the Site Selectors Guild, we are active in industry groups to shape the corporate site location profession and impact community competitiveness. The corporate site location process is data driven but relationships matter. We meet with communities that win and lose a corporate site location project so they can understand why. Corporate site selectors can make companies, regions and states successful in creating high-wage jobs and capital investment by implementing a data driven process focused on economic growth and availability of skilled labor and sites, promoting pro-growth economic policies and performance based incentives and building relationships with industry and communities.