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Leading Locations for 2016 Commentary: Rankings Not Sufficient to Complete the Site Decision

Although the rankings of Leading Locations are valuable in making comparisons between locations, detailed, primary information — understood within the context of a specific project — is necessary to complete the site decision.

Q2 2016
Rankings are best understood and used when the methodology is clear and to the point, and the analysis is executed accurately. Rankings can be used to make a wide variety of points, so it is important to understand the selection of data sets used in the analysis as well as any weights that may be assigned to them. This will make it clear what the rankings are telling you, and perhaps as important, what they are not.

The Area Development rankings of Leading Locations are particularly strong in their thoroughness, and so can be valuable in making comparisons between locations. This is especially true during the early stages of a site selection process. It is important to note that rankings are not sufficient to complete a site selection decision — only detailed, local, primary information, understood in the context of your particular project, can lead to an optimal location decision. Factors that may lead to a high ranking and imply a healthy growing city may, in fact, only point to a sub-optimal place to locate depending on industry concentrations, wage pressures, lack of infrastructure capacity, low labor availability, quality-of-life issues, etc.

This brings up another valuable aspect of the Area Development rankings — the thorough selection of data sets provide a very broad perspective, and each data set can be evaluated on its own. So while the Bay Area of California may show up with three of the top five overall rankings, the rankings are much different when looking specifically at average wages and average wage growth. In addition, many site selection decisions tend to look within a particular region, and the Area Development rankings provide regional analysis for each of the data sets.

It is also important to note that despite these limitations, rankings often catch the eye of prospects. For those executing their own site selection process, this can result in the rankings having a high impact on their decision. For those using consultant services, the rankings are often noted by the client team and may require in-depth discussion of the methodologies used in order to determine project relevance.

Leading Locations for 2016 Results

Area Development’s research desk compiled the statistics for this report. Locations were ranked according to the methodology explained herein. This article was written by Steve Stackhouse-Kaelble, Staff Editor.

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