The Corporate Survey results reflect the current situation. The pandemic has not changed the corporate real estate strategy of many companies (confirmed by 76 percent) to go forward with domestic and international investments, but it has slowed it down. For example, travel restrictions still limit the possibility of foreign companies to visit possible sites in the U.S. Nevertheless, several new projects have started including FDI ones. As the survey shows, reshoring, near-shoring, and offshoring seem not to be happening. Companies are also tending to do more geographical diversification of their plants and expanding existing facilities. We are already seeing large investments again starting in China, Mexico, as well as in the U.S.
New investments are currently mainly been done for manufacturing facilities and warehouses (representing 52 percent of the domestic total and 41 percent of the foreign total of planned new plants). Due to the electrification of vehicles, the auto industry is seeing large manufacturing projects. President Biden’s plan to make all government vehicles electric — more than 645,000 cars and trucks — would push production of EVs even more.
With regard to site selection factors, the survey clearly shows the availability of skilled labor as the No. 1 criteria with a 91.4 percent importance rating. Training programs have become increasingly important to companies (with a 50.9 percent importance rating in 1986 to 63.3 percent nowadays). Labor costs dropped to 84.2 percent from being the top factor with 96.6 percent importance rating 35 years ago.
As the survey shows, a site “certification” is not a main decision factor for companies — 69 percent of the respondents say that a pre-certified site is of no importance or equal to other parameters.
Although still important, survey numbers for highway accessibility and accessibility to major airport have dropped over 35 years, which means that rural areas are becoming more popular in which to locate new facilities. In particular, larger projects are choosing smaller cities with a good quality of life standard to attract employees rather than metropolitan areas. The quality of life factor saw a huge increase in importance — going from a 60.4 percent importance rating 35 years ago to 84.8 percent today.
Quality of life is becoming a very important criteria in the site selection process. Nowadays many companies list quality of life as a main decision parameter besides labor, utilities, transportation, and incentives.