Area Development
{{RELATEDLINKS}}The cost of labor, as well as highway accessibility, has traditionally been the dominant site selection factor in choosing a new location. However, the availability of a skilled workforce has grown steadily in importance over the years and is now the leading site selection factor in this year’s Corporate Survey. Fifty-six percent of respondents cite the availability of a skilled workforce as having an effect on their new or expansion plans or current operations.

The integration of advanced technology into the site selection process leads to the question, is a community’s workforce keeping up with advanced skills necessary to meet the evolving talent demands of current and future workforces? Capital investment demands of technology also necessitate a strong confidence in the area workforce’s ability to support the facility. The presence of a feeder system, including industry clusters and universities, may ensure a skilled workforce is achievable in the location.

Training programs and the availability of technical colleges in a community are generally viewed as important factors in the survey, but not necessarily very important factors. Companies requiring higher-skilled workforces expect to find those skills readily available in the community as opposed to developing skills via training. [Nonetheless], many state and local governments offer excellent training initiatives that address any gaps between a company’s labor needs and what’s available in local workforce.

Finally, [of those survey respondents planning new domestic facilities], 69 percent plan to open them within two years. This is good news! The survey also reveals approximately half of the new facilities will be manufacturing and/or warehouse-distribution, and more than half (61 percent) of new domestic facilities will create less than 50 new jobs.