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Avoiding Expensive Pitfalls During the Site Selection Process

Selecting a new site for a company's facility involves a considerable amount of time and money, but a thorough, expert site investigation is well worth the investment.

Alexandra Segers, General Manager Southeast, SSOE Group and Jeff Caldwell, Program Manager, SSOE Group (July 2011)
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Fitting the Pieces Together
A practical, utilitarian viewpoint is necessary when evaluating a site. The site selection team and any consultants who are hired should consider how a prospective site will impact the design and construction process - and ultimately the ongoing operations of the facility. All of this must be integrated with the company's long-range business goals. Considerations like the degree of slope and soil conditions at a site might be critical. Poor soil might mean piling is required - an expensive solution. And too much slope? Here's a worst case that happened to another global automobile manufacturer:

The company bought a parcel in the mid-South that ultimately required moving 26 million cubic yards of earth to level the site. You read that right .26 million - an off-the-charts challenge. One can assume there were other incentives attached to purchasing that specific site, but were they enough to offset the bill for earth moving?

There is a lot of time, trouble, and money at stake in site selection. It's important to conduct a search that follows an approach designed to uncover those site attributes that can swallow up time on the schedule and money in the budget if not detected before you buy. Employing expertise inside - and outside - of the company can ensure a company's needs are met and timely, expensive pitfalls are avoided. A thorough and knowledgeable approach will turn risk into reward.
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What kind of in-house expertise does a firm need in order to properly perform a location search? Can you provide an example of a company that called in expert consultants after undertaking the process themselves and realizing they did not have the expertise to perform the due diligence? How did this affect the site search process and results?
Many problems can arise if a site search isn't started by an experienced team or if they get involved too late in the process. More
- Alexandra Segers, General Manager Southeast, SSOE Group