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27th Annual Survey of Corporate Executives: Changing Site Selection Priorities

Although the survey results show no dramatic upswings in new facility or expansion plans, there are noted changes in site selection priorities – perhaps as a result of the lackluster economic recovery.

Area Development Magazine Special Presentation (Q1 / Winter 2013)
(page 3 of 3)

Figure 1 - Current Operations of Respondents (1 of 44)

Figure 1 - Current operations of respondents:

Forty percent of the respondents are with manufacturing companies, 9 percent represent logistics/distribution/warehousing establishments, and 10 percent are with construction and engineering enterprises.


Next: Figure 2 - Respondent's Title:

Figure 2 - Respondent's Title (2 of 44)

FIGURE 2 - Respondent's title:

Importantly, 40 percent of the survey respondents are also the head of their companies, i.e., president, CEO, owner, etc. And another fifth are financial or other corporate officers.


Next: Figure 3 - Primary Role in Company's Location Decisions

Figure 3 - Primary Role in Company's Location Decisions (3 of 44)

FIGURE 3 - Primary role in company's location decisions:

Nearly half of the respondents say they are responsible for their companies' final location decisions, and another 38 percent make the preliminary recommendations.


Next: Figure 4 - Number of Facilities Currently Operated:

Figure 4 - Number of Facilities Currently Operated (4 of 44)

Figure 4 - Number of Facilities Currently Operated:

About a third of the respondents to the 27th Annual Corporate Survey say they operate just one domestic facility, and only slightly more than a third operate five or more domestic facilities. However, more than half of the respondents say they operate 5 or more foreign facilities, with another 29 percent claiming to operate just one foreign facility.


Next: Figure 5 - Number of Employees Worldwide

Figure 5 - Number of Employees Worldwide (5 of 44)

Figure 5 - Number of Employees Worldwide

Nearly 30 percent of the Corporate Survey respondents say their firms employ 1,000 or more people worldwide. A quarter are mid-sized in terms of employment, with 100-499 workers, and about a fifth of the respondents say their work forces are comprised of fewer than 20 individuals.


Next: Figure 6 - Change in the Number of Facilities During the Past 12 Months

Figure 6 - Change in the Number of Facilities During the Past 12 Months (6 of 44)

Figure 5 - Change in the number of facilities during the
past 12 months

Nearly 30 percent of the respondents to the 27th Annual Corporate Survey say they have increased their number of facilities over the past year, while 10 percent say they have decreased their number of facilities, and 60 percent of the respondents have not changed their number of facilities at all - results that are remarkably consistent with the year prior's Corporate Survey.


Next: Figure 7 - Primary Reasons for those Increasing their Number of Facilities

Figure 7 - Primary Reasons for those Increasing their Number of Facilities (7 of 44)

Figure 7 - Primary reasons for those increasing their
number of facilities

Nearly half of the respondents who say they have increased their number of facilities needed to increase production in response to increased sales, and nearly a third needed better access to markets.


Next: Figure 8 - Primary Reasons for those Decreasing their number of Facilities

Figure 8 - Primary Reasons for those Decreasing their number of Facilities (8 of 44)

Figure 8 - Primary Reasons for those Decreasing their
number of Facilities

More than half of those decreasing their number of facilities over the past year say they needed to lower operating and/or labor costs - with only 16 percent saying the shuttering of facilities was due to a decrease in product sales.


Next: Figure 9 - Expect the Economy to Improve Significantly By

Figure 9 - Expect the Economy to Improve Significantly By (9 of 44)

Figure 9 - Expect the Economy to Improve Significantly By

Almost half of the respondents to our 27th Annual Corporate Survey do not expect the U.S. economy to improve until 2015 or 2016.


Next: Figure 10 - Effects of the Sluggish Recovery on Facility Plans

Figure 10 - Effects of the Sluggish Recovery on Facility Plans (10 of 44)

Figure 10 - Effects of the Sluggish Recovery on Facility Plans:

The Corporate Survey respondents also say the sluggish economic recovery has caused their firms to put new facilities and expansion plans on hold (23 percent) and reduce their current employment (13 percent) or defer hiring additional workers (18 percent).


Next: Figure 11 - Expect to Open New Facilities Within

Figure 11 - Expect to Open New Facilities Within (11 of 44)

Figure 11 - Expect to Open New Facilities Within:

Another 13 percent have longer-range new facilities plans, and nearly half have no new facilities plans at all.


Next: Figure 12 - Of Those with New Facilities Plans, Number to be Opened within the Next Five Years

Figure 12 - Of Those with New Facilities Plans, Number to be Opened within the Next Five Years (12 of 44)

Figure 12 - Of Those with New Facilities Plans, Number
to be Opened within the Next Five Years:

Of those with new facilities plans, remarkably, a fifth expect to open five or more facilities. However, another 39 percent expect to open just one new facility, and a quarter of the respondents expect to open two.


Next: Figure 13 - Location of New Domestic Facilities (as a percentage of total number to be opened)

Figure 13 - Location of New Domestic Facilities (as a percentage of total number to be opened) (13 of 44)

Figure 13 - Location of New Domestic Facilities
(as a percentage of total number to be opened):

The South Atlantic region (North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia) and the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin) will each receive 13 percent of the respondents' planned new facilities, closely followed by the Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas) with 12 percent and the Mid-Atlantic States (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) with 11 percent.


Next: Figure 14 - Types of New Domestic Facilities (as a percentage of total number to be opened)

Figure 14 - Types of New Domestic Facilities (as a percentage of total number to be opened) (14 of 44)

Figure 14 - Types of New Domestic Facilities
(as a percentage of total number to be opened):

More than a quarter of the new domestic facilities planned by the current Corporate Survey respondents will house manufacturing operations, and another 25 percent will be warehouse/distribution centers.


Next: Figure 15 - Number of New Jobs to be Created at New Domestic Facilities

Figure 15 - Number of New Jobs to be Created at New Domestic Facilities (15 of 44)

Figure 15 - Number of New Jobs to be Created at New
Domestic Facilities:

Unfortunately, three quarters of the respondents say their planned new facilities will create fewer than 100 new jobs, with only about a fifth of the respondents saying the facilities will create between 100 and 499 jobs.


Next: Figure 16 - Amount to be Invested in New Domestic Facilities

Figure 16 - Amount to be Invested in New Domestic Facilities (16 of 44)

Figure 16 - Amount to be Invested in New Domestic Facilities:

Additionally, about 60 percent of the Corporate Survey respondents say the planned new facilities will represent less than $10 million in investment; just 28 percent say they represent between $10 million and $50 million in investment.


Next: Figure 17 - Location of New Foreign Facilities (as a percentage of total number to be opened)

Figure 17 - Location of New Foreign Facilities (as a percentage of total number to be opened) (17 of 44)

Figure 17 - Location of New Foreign Facilities
(as a percentage of total number to be opened):

This year's Corporate Survey respondents appear to have as much interest in South America as in Canada and Western Europe - historically our readers' top two outward FDI choices. The survey respondents plan 12 percent of their new foreign facilities for each of these three regions.


Next: Figure 18 - Location of New Facilities Planned for Asia (as a percentage of total new Asian projects)

Figure 18 - Location of New Facilities Planned for Asia (as a percentage of total new Asian projects) (18 of 44)

Figure 18 - Location of New Facilities Planned for Asia
(as a percentage of total new Asian projects):

Year-over-year interest in Asia by the Corporate Survey respondents has declined somewhat. This year's survey respondents say 28 percent of their new foreign facilities are planned for Asia, down from 33 percent of those planned by the prior year's respondents. Two thirds of the new facilities planned for Asia will be in China.


Next: Figure 19 - Types of New Foreign facilities (as a percentage of total number to be opened)

Figure 19 - Types of New Foreign facilities (as a percentage of total number to be opened) (19 of 44)

Figure 19 - Types of New Foreign facilities
(as a percentage of total number to be opened):

Nearly 30 percent of the planned new foreign facilities will house manufacturing operations, and there will be many more foreign back office/call center (10 percent of total projects) and shared services facilities (14 percent) than seen on the domestic front (10 percent in all).


Next: Figure 20 - Number of New Jobs to be Created at New Foreign Facilities

Figure 20 - Number of New Jobs to be Created at New Foreign Facilities (20 of 44)

Figure 20 - Number of New Jobs to be Created at New
Foreign Facilities:

Additionally, about a third of the Corporate Survey respondents say their new foreign facilities will create more than 100 jobs - more than expected at the planned new domestic facilities. Investment expectations are similar, however.


Next: Figure 21 - Amount to be Invested In New Foreign Facilities

Figure 21 - Amount to be Invested In New Foreign Facilities (21 of 44)

Figure 21 - Amount to be Invested In New Foreign Facilities:

Sixty percent of the respondents say they will invest less than $10 million in new foreign facilities, and a quarter will invest between $10 million and $50 million.


Figure 22 - Expect to Expand existing Facilities at Present Location Within

Figure 22 - Expect to Expand existing Facilities at Present Location Within (22 of 44)

Figure 22 - Expect to Expand existing Facilities at Present
Location Within:

Half of the 27th Annual Corporate Survey respondents have no plans to expand facilities at their present locations — as was the case with the prior year's survey respondents. Just 35 percent say they expect to expand facilities over the next two years.


Next: Figure 23 - Number of New Jobs to be Created by Expansion

Figure 23 - Number of New Jobs to be Created by Expansion (23 of 44)

Figure 23 - Number of New Jobs to be Created by Expansion:

However, these expansions will not create many new jobs. More than 80 percent of those with expansion plans say their existing facility expansions will create fewer than 100 new jobs.


Next: Figure 24 - Expect to Relocate a Domestic Facility Within

Figure 24 - Expect to Relocate a Domestic Facility Within (24 of 44)

Figure 24 - Expect to Relocate a Domestic Facility Within:

Seventy percent of the Corporate Survey respondents also have no relocation plans, with only a fifth expecting to relocate within the next two years


Next: Figure 25 - Of Those with Plans, the Primary Reasons for Moving from Current Location

Figure 25 - Of Those with Plans, the Primary Reasons for Moving from Current Location (25 of 44)

Figure 25 - Of Those with Plans, the Primary Reasons for
Moving from Current Location:

Of those with relocation plans, a third cite high taxes and excessive government regulations as their reasons for moving, while a quarter need to be in closer proximity to suppliers and/or markets served, and about a fifth are also concerned with healthcare costs and the quality of life at their present locations.


Figure 26 - Expect to Relocate a Domestic Facility to an Offshore Location

Figure 26 - Expect to Relocate a Domestic Facility to an Offshore Location (26 of 44)

Figure 26 - Expect to Relocate a Domestic Facility
to an Offshore Location:

Nonetheless, only 3 percent of the Corporate Survey respondents expect to relocate a domestic operation to offshore or a foreign facility back to the United States


Next: Figure 27 - If So, Reasons for Re-Shoring

Figure 27 - If So, Reasons for Re-Shoring (27 of 44)

Figure 27 - If So, Reasons for Re-Shoring:

Of those who say they will re-shore, a third cite social/cultural barriers as their reasons for doing so, and a fifth are concerned about rising foreign labor and energy costs, product quality issues, and difficulties transporting supplies/products.


Next: Figure 28 - Issues Preventing Company from Spending More of Its Earnings on Investment in U.S. Facilities

Figure 28 - Issues Preventing Company from Spending More of Its Earnings on Investment in U.S. Facilities (28 of 44)

Figure 28 - Issues Preventing Company from Spending More
of Its Earnings on Investment in U.S. Facilities:

When asked about the issues preventing their companies from spending more of their earnings on investment in U.S. facilities, more than half of the respondents cite high U.S. tax rates/tax uncertainty and excessive government regulations; nearly 40 percent are also concerned about new healthcare regulations and, importantly, fully two-thirds are concerned about general economic instability


Next: Figure 31 - High Unemployment Rates are Making it Easier to Find the Necessary Labor

Figure 31 - High Unemployment Rates are Making it Easier to Find the Necessary Labor (29 of 44)

Figure 31 - High Unemployment Rates are Making
it Easier to Find the Necessary Labor:

In a related question, we asked our survey-takers if the relatively high unemployment rates throughout the nation are making it easier for them to find the labor they need. More than two thirds say this is not the case.


Next: Figure 32 - Many Unemployed Are Lacking

Figure 32 - Many Unemployed Are Lacking (30 of 44)

Figure 32 - Many Unemployed Are Lacking:

About two-fifths of the Corporate Survey respondents say the unemployed are lacking basic reading and math skills; 75 percent say that, most importantly, they are lacking the more advanced skills that the respondents require, e.g., advanced welding, machine tool programming, etc.


Next: Figure 33 - Dependency on Contract Workers or Contingent Labor

Figure 33 - Dependency on Contract Workers or Contingent Labor (31 of 44)

Figure 33 - Dependency on Contract Workers
or Contingent Labor:

A lack of skilled labor may be the reason that 57 percent of the respondents say they are very or somewhat dependent on contract or contingent workers.


Next: Figure 34 - Percentage of Contract Labor Employed at Any Given Time

Figure 34 - Percentage of Contract Labor Employed at Any Given Time (32 of 44)

Figure 34 - Percentage of Contract Labor Employed
at Any Given Time:

Although, at any given time, less than 25 percent of their work forces are comprised of contract labor, according to nearly 80 percent of the respondents.


Next: Figure 35 - Importance of the Existence of an available Building in the Site search

Figure 35 - Importance of the Existence of an available Building in the Site search (33 of 44)

Figure 35 - Importance of the Existence of an available
Building in the Site search:

This factor jumped in the rankings from fifteenth place in the year-prior survey to eighth place this year - the second- largest jump in the rankings - considered "very important" or "important" by 78.4 percent of the respondents.


Next: Figure 36 - Importance of the Existence of a Shovelready/ Pre-Certified Site

Figure 36 - Importance of the Existence of a Shovelready/ Pre-Certified Site (34 of 44)

Figure 36 - Importance of the Existence of a Shovelready/
Pre-Certified Site:

Moreover, when they are looking for available land for construction, 50 percent of our Corporate Survey respondents consider the existence of a shovel-ready or pre-certified site as very or somewhat important


Next: Figure 37 - Impact of High Energy Costs on Facility Plans

Figure 37 - Impact of High Energy Costs on Facility Plans (35 of 44)

Figure 37 - Impact of High Energy Costs on Facility Plans:

Energy availability and costs is ranked sixth among the factors, considered "very important" or "important" by 81.3 percent of the Corporate Survey respondents. It is hard to explain, therefore, why 60 percent of the respondents say energy costs are having no impact on their facility operations or supply/distribution networks.


Next: Figure 38 - Sustainable Development is More Important Now than in the Past:

Figure 38 - Sustainable Development is More Important Now than in the Past (36 of 44)

Figure 38 - Sustainable Development is More Important
Now than in the Past:

Nonetheless, 68 percent of the respondents say sustainable development is more important to their company now than in the past.


Next: Figure 39 - Measures Being Undertaken to Reduce Company's "Carbon Footprint"

Figure 39 - Measures Being Undertaken to Reduce Company's "Carbon Footprint" (37 of 44)

Figure 39 - Measures Being Undertaken to Reduce
Company's

Three quarters of the respondents are making energy-saving modifications to their facilities, while two thirds are recycling or re-using waste products.


Next: Figure 40 - Company has Received and Utilized Incentives in the Past

Figure 40 - Company has Received and Utilized Incentives in the Past (38 of 44)

Figure 40 - Company has Received and Utilized Incentives
in the Past:

Only slightly more than half of the respondents say they have received and utilized incentives in the past


Next: Figure 41 - If so, Percentage of the Incentives Initially Estimated Value Secured

Figure 41 - If so, Percentage of the Incentives Initially Estimated Value Secured (39 of 44)

Figure 41 - If so, Percentage of the Incentives Initially
Estimated Value Secured:

Of those, three quarters say they have only secured up to 50 percent of the incentives estimated value.


Next: Figure 42 - Company has had to Repay Incentives Monies because Investment and/or Job Creation Obligations Were not Met

Figure 42 - Company has had to Repay Incentives Monies because Investment and/or Job Creation Obligations Were not Met (40 of 44)

Figure 42 - Company has had to Repay Incentives Monies
because Investment and/or Job Creation
Obligations Were not Met:

Only 5 percent have had to repay incentives monies because investment or job creation obligations were not met.


Next: Figure 43 - Types of Incentives Considered Most Important When Making a Location Decision

Figure 43 - Types of Incentives Considered Most Important When Making a Location Decision (41 of 44)

Figure 43 - Types of Incentives Considered Most Important
When Making a Location Decision:

When considering all types of incentives, more than two thirds of the respondents believe tax incentives are the most important type, while nearly half also prefer miscellaneous incentives such as free land, utility-rate subsidies, and infrastructure support.


Next: Figure 44 - Importance of Incentives to a Project Moving Forward in a Particular Location

Figure 44 - Importance of Incentives to a Project Moving Forward in a Particular Location (42 of 44)

Figure 44 - Importance of Incentives to a Project Moving
Forward in a Particular Location:

Seventy percent of the respondents also feel that incentives can be important to moving a project forward in a specific location.


Next: Figure 45 - Communities are Offering Specific Incentives for "Green Initiatives"

Figure 45 - Communities are Offering Specific Incentives for "Green Initiatives" (43 of 44)

Figure 45 - Communities are Offering Specific Incentives
for Green Initiatives:

Approximately 80 percent of the respondents also confirm they have not encountered any "green performance" requirements as a stipulation for receiving incentives.


Next: Figure 46 - Existence of Businesses Performing Similar Activities in the Area of search is Taken Into Consideration

Figure 46 - Existence of Businesses Performing Similar Activities in the Area of search is Taken Into Consideration (44 of 44)

Figure 46 - Existence of Businesses Performing Similar
Activities in the Area of search is Taken Into
Consideration:

Seventy percent of the respondents say they take into consideration the existence of businesses performing similar activities to theirs in the area of search.




27th Annual Survey of Corporate Executives and 9th Annual Survey of Consultants

Corporate Survey respondents consider and weigh the various site selection and quality-of-life factors. We ask them to rate the factors as either "very important," "important," "minor consideration," or "of no importance." Their ratings are shown in Figure 29. Click 'enlarge' to see the full chart.
Site selection and quality-of-life factors are ranked (separately) in order of importance to this year's respondents. The combined ratings/rankings appear in Figure 30 along with the prior year's survey combined ratings/rankings for comparison's sake. Click 'enlarge' to see the full chart.
CONSULTANTS COMMENTARY
Brett HunsakerSurvey Results Point to a "Positive Hold"
Brett Hunsaker, executive vice president and regional managing director at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank
Bill LuttrellEmergence of Big Data Affects Corporate Survey Respondents' Priorities
Bill Luttrell, senior locations strategist at Werner Enterprises
Ed McCallumA Lackluster Recovery
Ed McCallum, senior principal at McCallum Sweeney Consulting
Christopher B. SchastokCorporate Survey Results Mirror General Market Trends
Christopher B. Schastok, vice president at Jones Lang LaSalleg
Andrew ShapiroIncentives Are Still Important
Andrew Shapiro, managing director at Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Company
Thomas StringerCorporate Survey Reflects the New Economic Normal
Thomas Stringer, Business Advisory Services, Ryan & Company
Respondents’ Sources of Information
Eighty percent of the Corporate Survey respondents use site magazines like Area Development when making location decisions (see chart on page S26). Two thirds also use the Internet to satisfy their informational needs. Both of these numbers are up over last year’s survey. When searching the Internet, about 70 percent of the respondents are looking for data on specific locations, and around 60 percent for listings of available sites and buildings.

The largest percentage (43 percent) start their information-gathering process one to two years in advance of making the location decision. Nearly two thirds of the respondents say they don’t wait very long after their initial information search to contact the locations of interest — a month to three months later. Nearly 90 percent of the respondents put up to five locations on their “short list” and also visit the same number before finalizing their location decisions. Three quarters make that decision any time between three months to one year after contact is made with representatives from the prospective locations.

Interestingly, more than 60 percent of the respondents to our 27th Annual Corporate Survey say they don’t use site selection or business consultants in this process. Of the third that do, 57 percent say the consultants help with the final real estate transaction; about half use their services of comparative location analyses as well as feasibility studies, incentives negotiations/management, and in the construction process.

Drawing Conclusions
Although the 27th Annual Corporate Survey results show no dramatic upswings in location or expansion plans, there are noted changes in site selection priorities — perhaps as a result of the lackluster economic recovery. Growth has been slower during this recovery than in previous ones. Nonetheless, there has been growth. In fact, the ISM index of manufacturing activity for January 2013 jumped to 53.1 from December 2012’s seasonally adjusted 50.2, with manufacturers also adding 4,000 net new jobs in January, the fourth consecutive monthly increase.

With this slow, uneven recovery, it’s no surprise then that nearly half of this year’s Corporate Survey respondents say the economy will not improve for another two or three years, i.e., until 2015 or 2016. Eighty percent of the year-prior survey respondents had thought it would improve by 2013 or 2014 — the projections keep getting longer. And the nation’s “economic instability” seems to be the culprit for the lack of optimism expressed by the corporate respondents. Worries about what the future holds in the way of taxes and government regulations are curbing business investment and hiring plans and keeping the recovery from taking off. Congressional stand-offs — like the one that brought the nation to the edge of the fiscal cliff in late 2012 — are keeping economic growth in check, and issues such as the debt ceiling and tax reform have yet to be fully dealt with by Congress.

As 2013 begins, Bernard Baumohl, chief economist for the Economic Outlook Group, recently noted that an otherwise fundamentally sound economy is being slowed by a lack of finality in the congressional budget debate. “What a shame,” says Baumohl in a research note. “Companies are eager to ramp up capital investments and boost hiring. Households are prepared to unleash five years of pent-up demand.”

In a January weekly address, President Obama said that signs of progress in real estate, manufacturing, and job-creation point to the fact that 2013 can be a year of economic growth. Ironically, the housing crisis brought the economy to its knees and now growth in housing may address its anemia. Just five years after the housing bust created a glut of empty homes, the country now doesn’t have enough — only 149,000 at the end of November 2012 and just 6,000 more than the lowest total on records dating back to 1963. This should spur the construction industry as well as consumer spending on furniture, appliances, and other durable goods, which should further boost manufacturing.

Now, if Congress can get its act together — and avoid further damage to business and consumer confidence — companies may also boost spending on equipment and facilities. Yet, with companies now inured by more than a decade of uncertain uneconomic conditions, it is doubtful we can turn back to the 1990s when more than 70 percent of our Corporate Survey respondents consistently had robust investment and facilities plans. We continue to expect modest growth as today’s corporate decision-makers continue to be as cautious as they are consistent in this regard.
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