What Site Selectors Should Know

We’ve all heard the old saying about real estate: “Location, location, location!” But is it really possible to come up with a single common denominator for successful site selection based solely on location?Perhaps it is more about considering every factor within the overarching concept of “location.” Even in residential real estate, location means more than the physical placement: It means access to good schools, being away from busy streets, living in a safe neighborhood. Professional site selectors know about strategizing with businesses to find the perfect locations for their industry. Strategies include everything from negotiating tax incentives to getting different cities or regions to compete for the business to come to them. Still, many companies decide to go it alone. If you charged with doing all the site selection work for your own firm, there are a lot of things to keep track of in finding a new business location. Unless you really know what to look for, you may end up with a relocation that leaves you and your company not completely satisfied. Ask and You May Receive We’ve all heard the old saying about real estate: “Location, location, location!” But is it really possible to come up with a single common denominator for successful site selection based solely on location? Perhaps it is more about considering every factor within the overarching concept of “location.” Even in residential real estate, location means more than the physical placement: It means access to good schools, being away from busy streets, living in a safe neighborhood. Professional site selectors know about strategizing with businesses to find the perfect locations for their industry. Strategies include everything from negotiating tax incentives to getting different cities or regions to compete for the business to come to them. Still, many companies decide to go it alone. If you charged with doing all the site selection work for your own firm, there are a lot of things to keep track of in finding a new business location. Unless you really know what to look for, you may end up with a relocation that leaves you and your company not completely satisfied.

Ask and You May Receive

Businesses relocate for various reasons. Most move for economic reasons, either to expand operations or in an effort to cut costs by relocating to a less expensive area. So, selectors must take an in-depth look at how different locations handle incentives, such as offering significant tax savings to attract businesses to the area. The fact that a company may bring jobs and revenue to an area can be leveraged in many ways, and municipalities have several different incentive strategies – from outright tax breaks to paying for public or project-specific infrastructure that would normally fall on the private business. For example, it may be a deal for the city to improve roads near a location, including constructing new ones, or offering zoning variances to accommodate the business because it will create jobs and generate tax revenue.

Site Selection Criteria

Most people involved with relocating are really interested in the following:

  • Accessibility to transportation: Why bother relocating if you can’t get your product to market or are unable to receive supplies?
  • Access to conveniences: Isolation is not a good thing, and a new location in the middle of nowhere is bound to make some personnel unhappy.
  • Infrastructure: Moving to an area free of competitors may sound like an ideal solution, but maybe there’s a reason why there are no other companies in the region. A lack of businesses in the area may signal the absence of the necessary infrastructure to support the industry. Being a pioneer may sound appealing, but consider the overall costs in terms of both income and expenses.
  • Quality of life: This takes into account everything from access to cultural events to community safety, from the beauty (or lack thereof) of an area to retail and recreation opportunities. Community amenities play a large part in the overall satisfaction of employees, and companies’ ability to attract workers to an area.
  • Costs: Making a move to a new location is not just about business expenses. It also must take into account cost of living considerations for employees relocating with the company.
  • Availability of workforce: This is important. No one should ever relocate to an area assuming that a suitable and well-trained workforce will be automatically available for employment. Areas with a dearth of skilled workers means spending a lot of time and money bringing those people up to speed so that they can perform a job. A good way to gauge a labor pool is to see if there are schools and colleges in the new area because students coming out of school who are looking for their first job are ripe for the picking.
  • Special considerations: Specialized business operations might require some imagination and insight to discover a suitable new location. Site selectors who know of locations with a great quality of life rating that aren’t NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard) are site selectors who know how to do their job.
  • Real-world views of the area: A site selector can only tell a business so much. Companies considering a few different prospective relocation sites need to go there, spend time in the community and get a feel for the area prior to making any decision, no matter how sweet the deal sounds.

Site Selectors Serving Specific Regions

Many municipalities, cities, counties or regions invite site selectors to conferences highlighting their particular area’s many amenities in hopes of influencing site selectors’ advice to clients. These can be terrific opportunities for site selectors to learn about new options for their clients. Often, site selectors invited to a city or region are introduced to many business and community leaders, which is the perfect way for them to gather intelligence about an area. That information may prove vital in helping a client find the best location for their business.