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33rd Annual Survey of Corporate Executives Commentary: Labor — Availability, Costs, and Access to the Workplace — Is Paramount

Finding and retaining top talent at an affordable cost remain top of mind for executives making location and expansion decisions.

Q1 2019
Labor concerns are continuing to rocket up the list of important site selection factors, finally culminating with the top spot in this year’s annual Corporate Survey, and rightly so. Concerns about finding and retaining top talent continue to be a major conversation point for all of the projects that we are working on as the economy continues to demonstrate strong figures and consumer confidence, all while the unemployment rates are at historic lows.

Rounding out the top three spots are also labor considerations — labor costs and highway accessibility. While many people previously believed highway accessibility to only be a logistics issue for raw materials and finished goods, today we are finding that this factor also crosses over to the labor side, as more people want to live closer to urban or heavily developed suburban areas but have the ability to get to work easily. Hence the interstate has become even more critical to the site selection process.

It was curious to see that the factor that fell the largest number of spots this year is proximity to major markets, as this fell from 7th place down to 14th place in this year’s survey. This may be due to changing demographics, where more millennials are reaching the age where they have started families, thereby forcing them out of urban markets. It is likely though that they aren’t going far, and so developed suburbs are seeing a strong boom.

Construction concerns tumbled in this year’s ranking with fast-track permitting falling from the 11th spot last year to 19th spot on this year’s list, as well as occupancy or construction costs falling to 10th place this year as opposed to 5th place last year. This may be due to companies realizing that their facility planning directly impacts their employee recruitment and retention rates, as they continue to build in higher-cost areas as well as include amenities in their facilities that will make them desirable places to work.

Overall, we are optimistic after seeing the results that confidence remains high, and site selection projects appear to be squarely on the mind of many companies moving forward!

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