The President’s Pen is a weekly blog written by Jonathan Smith, New Vision’s President and CEO about local economic development projects and initiatives. It also covers economic trends, workforce issues, business climate policies, and manufacturing news.
Some interesting research illuminates how companies priorities continue to change regarding where to put new factories, backoffice centers and related business facilities. Processes for selecting communities and specific sites for new business operations are evolving too.
Each year Area Development Magazine polls corporate executives and site selectors regarding the top criteria impacting their factory location decisions. It's the 28th year the magazine has conducted the poll - this year the availability of skilled labor, highway accessibility and labor costs were the top factors influencing site selection.
It is interesting to see how these priorities shift with the times. My 2011 blog featured this survey and the top priorities a few years ago were highway accessibility, the cost of labor, and tax exemptions. Skilled labor availability was ranked seventh and availability of telecom/broadband did not crack the top ten.
With the economy rebounding it is not surprising to see availability of skilled labor rise in importance. Our conversations with local companies and site selectors confirm that talent is a top issue.
Another interesting recent study is from Development Counsellor's International. They also survey corporate executives and site selectors every three years. They ask these stakeholders about top states for doing business and how they gather information when looking for new business locations. According to the poll Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina enjoy the most favorable business climate. California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey and Massachusetts are at the bottom of this list (Washington ranked as the 27th best and 18th worst state for what it's worth).
Their study also found that site selection is increasingly being done online. Companies and their site selection consultants are now evaluating prospective communities without much connection to local economic development offices initially. The use of the internet in site selection means places a premium on content rich websites that can respond to wideranging questions from prospective businesses.