Dean J. Uminski, CEcD, Principal, Crowe Horwath (Q1 2014)
In today’s arena of competing in the global marketplace, cities and localities need to recognize that what used to be a competition between states and regions for new jobs and capital investment has now developed into a highly competitive global competition. If cities don’t look to the future and think globally, they risk the chance of being overlooked as a place to do business.
Many quantitative and qualitative decisions are made at the beginning of every expansion project that affect an organization, including the design and construction process, long-term sustainability, and operation in a new global economy. While the initial costs may be a significant driver, all factors need to be taken into consideration when making the most efficient and cost-effective expansion or relocation decision.
It comes as no surprise that the top three site selection factors — availability of skilled labor, highway accessibility, and labor costs — for 2013 remain unchanged from 2012. The economic recovery is still having an impact on businesses that are thinking about expanding. For the expansions that I worked on in 2013, the quality and cost of a professional work force is of paramount importance. I have found that the availability of a highly skilled and cost-effective work force depends on the proximity to universities and technical/trade schools.
When looking at the quality-of-life factors in Area Development’s 2013 Corporate Survey, the top four factors — low crime rate, healthcare facilities, housing costs, and ratings of public schools — come into play when attracting, relocating, or retaining a quality work force.
In addition to a highly skilled and cost-effective work force, companies want a transportation nexus that will allow them easy shipping access to their customers within one day’s drive. Manufacturing and distribution companies need to ensure that their products are well positioned for just-in-time delivery with transportation access for shipments across the U.S.