Area Development
Dan Foster, Executive Managing Director at Newmark Knight Frank and Chris Volney, Senior Director, CBRE Labor Analytics, spoke with Area Development about the lesstangible site selection factors, such as local culture and quality of place, at our Miami Consultants Forum. Interview conducted by Margy Sweeney, Founder and CEO, Akrete, Inc. and Area Development Editorial Board member.
What is the “soul” of your company? Many corporations and corporate executives have a firm understanding of what is at the heart of their company: culture. Mission and vision statements, codes and ethics, employees and employee handbooks all serve as windows into the “soul” or internal culture of a company. And the impact of culture on a company cannot be understated—it is vital. Without culture, business organization won’t be sustainable. {{RELATEDLINKS}}

But what about the soul of your company’s surrounding community? Is it important to your business and its success? For many executives, the culture of their current or prospective communities can be much more difficult to discern than that of their own organizations. But, in site selection, community culture is where the magic happens.

Many companies are no longer just looking for communities that match their business needs—they are looking for places that match, convey and personify their company’s culture. Look no further than VF Corporation planting its sustainable roots in the green-oriented city of Denver, or tech startups that flock to sunny and prosperous Silicon Valley in pursuit of talent and to keep their eye on the competition.

That’s where successful EDOs come into play. No matter what your industry or type of company, honing in on the strategic integration and alignment between corporation, culture and community is vital to ensuring a successful site selection, and in turn, a successful organization.

Just as mission and value statements serve as windows into the soul of a company, an EDO should provide a crystal-clear window into the soul of their community. And, more important, an EDO should creatively show your company’s reflection in the window.

What your EDOs can do
While you might have a firm grasp on your company and every aspect of its culture, it is impossible to have your finger on the pulse on every prospective community in the nation, or even on what you believe to be your wish list. Knowledgeable and helpful EDOs can play a critical role in connecting your company and its culture with the right community.

How does this translate into real-world site selection? Well, if your company has a passion for healthy living and sustainability, a successful EDO will guide you through site visits to LEED certified buildings rich with greenery and wellness-focused amenities, such as roof gardens and health centers. They may also take you to prospective sites that are surrounded by bike paths that allow health-conscious employees to easily get to and from work.

What if sustainability isn’t your most important goal? Maybe proximity to public transport, urban centers, talent and competition is what your company desires. Whatever is at the forefront of your organizational culture, a savvy EDO will show you what their community brings to the table and how it can uniquely suit your needs—while also being clear, transparent and honest about its limitations.

When an EDO immerses your decision makers in the local culture with early morning jogs on the nearby hiking path and sit-down lunches at local restaurants, you can get a better idea of the community’s culture. Creative and thoughtful approaches to showing you how your employees will engage with the community if you locate there demonstrate that the EDO is excited about your company’s potential move.

Moving forward
While your company and its culture are vital to its success, bringing in the third “C” of community can unlock unharnessed potential of your site selection. So long as you team up with an EDO that paints a vivid and honest picture of how their community aligns with your company’s soul, your company, culture and community will thrive together.