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Corporate Executive Survey Commentary: Integrating Advanced Technology Into the Site Selection Process

Although training programs and technical colleges are viewed as important, many companies look to find the workforce skills they require readily available in their chosen locations.

Q1 2016
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.

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