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Corporate Executive Survey Commentary: Project Timelines Compressed

Site location decision-making durations continue to compress, as reflected by those considering shovel-ready/pre-certified sites and building availability important factors.

Q1 2014
Like many surveys I have read on topics I am professionally involved in, the Area Development 2013 Survey offered an interesting mix of both familiar and surprising results. This should really be of little surprise as the factors that drive location decisions evolve at a fairly rapid pace based on what is happening in the world around us.

I was not surprised to see availability of skilled labor lead the list of site selection factors, rising two spots and about 6 percent from last year’s survey. Identifying locations with a labor force well suited to meet the immediate and long-terms needs of a particular company has become a challenge nationwide, as our economy continues to recover and our work force struggles to support the changing needs of employers, especially in the manufacturing sectors. What I did find surprising was that there was no mention of the HR function among the departments involved in the site selection process. My personal experience is that HR representatives are playing a more significant role in location decision-making and getting involved earlier in the process.

In addition to the rising focus on labor, our clients have never been as concerned with the reduction and mitigation of delivery risk, as site location decision-making durations continue to compress, as indicated by a 9 percent increase over 2012 in the number of respondents who reached a decision within 3– 6 months. Several survey responses reflect this trend, including 61 percent of respondents categorizing shovel-ready/pre-certified site as very or somewhat important. Along similar lines, the existence of available buildings remains critical, with 78 percent of respondents assigning existing building availability into the same top two categories.

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