Another successful Site Selectors Guild Fall Forum is in the books. It is always beneficial for economic developers to interact with site selection consultants to build new relationships and nurture existing ones, as well as learn about developing industry trends and best practices. I was fortunate to be joined by several Upstate NY economic development colleagues in Greenville, South Carolina at the event, which was highlighted by five breakout sessions focused on the theme “The Risk of Complacency.”
There continues to be a global competition for jobs and investment. Last year overall foreign direct investment declined due to concerns over trade barriers, implemented and proposed tariffs, automation, and immigration policies. Economic developers must have a strategy for attraction foreign direct investment as well as foreign-born workers, a large percentage of which are entrepreneurs.
Place is important
Quality of place considerations affect the race for talent, in a positive and negative way. The opioid crisis and rise in homelessness are negatively impacting the availability of labor in many communities. Utilizing a community-inclusive planning process and prioritizing a “friendly and safe” work environment can help municipalities and companies attract and retain talent.
Social impact issues are influencing site location decisions more than ever. Site selection consultants and their clients are considering a community’s diversity, political landscape, corporate sustainability measures, economic inclusivity policies, and health care quality now more than ever. Companies want to ensure the communities in which they operate align from a values perspective.
Infrastructure, both transportation and utility, continue to be a major driver of site location decisions, especially for manufacturers, but new technology could change companys’ infrastructure requirements in the future.
Incentive policies must be flexible and aligned with local and regional economic development goals to be most effective. Across the country there are calls for increased transparency in the incentives process with “public-private partnerships” being established to create openness and ensure compliance.
The landscape of economic development is consistently changing and economic developers who remain complacent do so at their own peril. Staying current with the consistent changes affecting location strategy and learning valuable information and feedback from site selectors help make Buffalo Niagara more competitive and successful in our mission of business attraction. I’m already looking forward to next year’s Fall Forum in another epicenter of site selection, Dallas, Texas!