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Top Apps for Business Location Decisions Part 1: Location Analysis

A selection of Web tools to help executives collect, analyze, and compare data on potential locations for business expansion and relocation.

The editors of Area Development and members of its 2011 Editorial Advisory Board present some of the Web's most useful site selection tools and databases. These resources cover a wide range of considerations for doing business in the U.S. and abroad, from government transparency to economic rankings. Stay tuned for Part II of this series, which will cover tax and incentive-specific site selection tools.

Site Selection
This flexible database tool, which allows users to compare global and local locations, supports site selectors by drawing from a wide range of sources to compile extensive information that aids doing business in locations around the world. It features independent data uploads and processes through four modules to help companies make wise decisions. The selector draws from numerous public sources, international organizations, published reports, recruiters, real estate brokers, and independent groups such as Transparency International.

Moody's Analytics'
This resource tracks and analyzes a plethora of information that is especially useful in selecting a site. Information is presented on global, national, and regional levels and includes data on economies, financial markets, credit risk, consumer credit and spending, population, output, and income.

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What do you think are some of the best, independent site selection tools on the Web? Let us know below at Ask Area Development.
Nielsen Claritas SiteReports
SiteReports helps users answer the questions of where a business's best customers and prospects are located, where the best location is for a company, where competition is located, and what the market potential is for a business's product or service. Features include aerial and interactive maps, batch report processing, standard geography areas, and drive time analysis.

Site Selection
Area Development launched FacilityLocations in early 2010. The site, currently in public beta mode, is a resource for business executives and site consultants looking to research and discover locations for expansion or relocation, and connect with local economic developers. Users first choose a general region, then navigate and identify potential site and facility locations within a GIS map on each regional landing page. The map includes Area Development news filters and, in the future, a set of economic and geographic data overlays and filters. The user can drill down into profile pages of locations found on the regional landing page map. The set of tools found on the location profile page will enable the user to research a location that may already be on a shortlist, or find data and information on a location that wasn't even a consideration before researching the FacilityLocations maps. Each location profile page includes: advanced GIS mapping; Google Streetview and Bing BirdsEye Imagery; heat maps and data Layers; downloadable, point-and-click radius demographics; available property listings and real estate assets; live news and video feeds; location overview and measurement tools; and economic development contact information, Web, and e-mail links.

Site Selection
City Forward
City Forward's free Web platform is funded by IBM. The searchable database culls information from several sources and relies on public data. The site's information covers metro areas, cities, and small geographic areas that vary in size, development, and location. And it presents information on a wide range of issues that affect business location decisions, such as transportation, energy usage, demographics, and environmental considerations. Users can "Create an Exploration" of data for their own uses or browse City Forward's data sets. The website's body of information continues to grow.

The National Broadband Map
The National Broadband Map is a tool sponsored by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to search, analyze, and map broadband availability across the United States. The site breaks down the types of technology available at each location, from cable modem, to fiber-to-the-end-user, to terrestrial mobile wireless. This information helps businesses that rely on ICT to make sound location decisions.

Business Climate
The Global Venture Capital and Private Equity Country Attractiveness Index
Pioneered by the IESE Business School of Barcelona, Spain, this index collects more than 300 data sets from a range of providers to give a global view of venture capital and private equity investment. Investors must consider many factors, including economic activity, liquidity of capital markets, taxation, and corporate governance. This Web tool considers all of these factors across different nations to determine relative positioning of economies and regions regarding their attractiveness for VC and private equity investments.

We polled site selection consultants and experts for their Web tools picks. Here are some of their "go to" tools:

Dean Uminski, Executive, Site Selection Consulting, Crowe Horwath

Site Selection
Google Earth
This tool lets users "fly," virtually, to anyplace in the world, viewing 3D buildings, historical map data, and local businesses, among other information.

Buzz Canup, President, Canup & Associates

Economy/Work Force
Bureau of Labor Statistics: Customized Maps and Calculators
Maps and calculators from the Bureau of Labor Statistics allow users to create custom maps showing unemployment rates on a state, metro, and county basis; determine inflation changes over the years; compare industrial activity levels around the country; and calculate injury and illness incidence rates for their specific business. In the Location Quotient Calculator, users can analyze various U.S. geographic areas based on industry (selections range from as broad as the manufacturing sector to as specific as plastics bottle manufacturing).

Andy Mace, Consulting Principal, Supply Chain Solutions Groups, Cushman & Wakefield Business Consulting

Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index
Ranks nearly 200 countries based on perceived levels of corruption

The World Bank and International Finance Corporation's Doing Business Data
Presents 183 economy and 30 sub-national snapshots, business rankings and regulations, and historical data for the global marketplace

EM-DAT's International Disaster Database

A collaboration between the World Health Organization and the Belgian government that tracks natural and humanitarian disasters around the world

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