Les J. Cranmer, Senior Managing Director, Studley, Inc. and Art M. Wegfahrt, Studley Inc. (Dec/Jan 09)
After reviewing the results of this year's survey, we find that the viewpoints and ranking expressed by the respondents are consistent with those decision-making factors we experience with our clients currently - as well as in the past. Overall, the data collected from the respondents represents a control group that has remained very consistent over time; therefore, the results can be compared on a year-by-year basis in a meaningful manner.
Looking at the rankings over time (2003-2008), the top-10 factors have not varied greatly, in terms of both inclusion and weighting. There have only been a few exceptions to the top 10, with eight of the factors always included: highway accessibility, labor costs, availability of skilled labor, state and local incentives, corporate tax rate, tax exemptions, occupancy and construction costs, and energy availability and costs. Available land and proximity to market were mentioned three times. Environmental regulations was included twice, as was availability of telecom services. This factor was changed to availability of high-speed Internet access, and that was included three times as well. Low-union profile was mentioned once.
On a specific level, although the survey responses were submitted before the financial markets meltdown, they were completed during a time when the equity and credit markets were showing strong signs of economic adjustment. With this in mind, we were curious to see if this year's corporate responses would be telltale, in terms of corporate attitude toward business growth and priorities. Of particular note, we looked for indications of changes in the respondents' views on projected business expansion and contraction, capital investment planning, and short-term vs. long-term planning emphasis.
Comparative responses between 2007 and 2008 indicate an upswing in projected new job and facility creation. And although additional offshore locations are planned, 96 percent of those responding stated that they would not be increasing or decreasing moves in either direction - on- or offshore.
Additionally, 68 percent of the respondents indicated that the tightening of the credit markets is not affecting their facility plans. This is further supported by the reasons for decreasing the number of facilities; 100 percent of those doing so said it was for consolidation, and 56 percent pointed to a need to lower costs, but only 39 percent indicated a decrease in product sales. These findings clearly indicate the current business turmoil has not found its way into this survey response - next year's survey should be extremely interesting.