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Skilled Labor, Ample Energy, and Speed to Market Take Priority

A location’s labor availability; responsive, pro-business local partners; and ability to support a large energy user are often the main drivers of the site selection decision.

Q1 2024
Once again, the ability to source abundant skilled labor tops the charts as the most valuable asset to a community. Companies have struggled for five years or more to find solid, deep pools of talent to support their operations, and consultants really have to perform a lot of due diligence in this space to ensure with the greatest level of reasonable certainty that their clients will have the people they need to support their operations. It is critical for us when we visit communities to not only see what the labor environment currently is but, moreover, what is the competition for labor coming into the community and how will the community continue to source its skilled workforce in the future.

The theme of the factors that tied for second in the Consultants Survey are primarily focused on speed. If a client comes to us, they already have a need and a timeline in their mind. If we are looking at several sites that score relatively similarly, [available land] that is fully entitled and shovel-ready most likely will leapfrog ahead of the other sites. It also helps when the local partners that we rely on are responsive and excited about our project. We want to find a community that welcomes the investment opportunity. And the role of incentives, as indicated by the responses, is one way that communities show that they are serious about winning the business. And it matters to our clients!Their impression of that community or region only goes up!

One of the fastest ways to get cut from a site selection is when we get to looking at energy capacities — both now and in the future. We are seeing areas of the country that we thought were very dependable for energy surprise us when it comes to the availability of energy or the timeline to get up to where our clients need to be. It is one of the first cuts we do when siting large operations. If a community does not have the ability to support a large energy user, it is always best to be direct about it to save time (and face!) for all parties. The sincerity will most likely earn a community a look for a more suitable project, but if there are unpleasant surprises, it could damage the site selectors’ chances of working with that community ever again.

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