Does it ever feel like different sides of the site selection conversation are happening in different rooms, independent of each other?
Business owner or site selector: We need a facility that meets this list of criteria we've identified as important.
Economic developer: We have a number of properties that would be perfect for you. Let me show you around.
The business owner or site selector has a number of specific criteria they need to tick off to find their ideal business location. Some of these may be specific to the site or building itself, such as square footage, zoning or 20 foot high door on a loading dock. But just as likely that many of them will be about the community itself: proximity to interstate highways or deep water port, concentration of potential employees with graduate degrees in engineering, easy commute times for management. Research universities nearby. Consumer spending patterns for retail. An airport that's a hub for easy travel. Quality of life factors such as state parks, cycling trails or seashore.
But economic developers don't always think to focus on community factors, which is a shame. It's easy to get sidetracked by "feature properties" the community wants occupied, incentives designed to direct development in a certain way, or development agendas that benefit the city or county - but not necessarily the business seeking a location. Successful site selection is more likely when you listen carefully and address the criteria they have identified as critical for them. Those elements are the all-important "why" of site selection.
Think of it this way - there are suitable retail outlets, warehouses, offices and industrial facilities in just about every every city and county. Why would any business choose yours over all the others?
Typically, economic developers address the "why" indirectly with beautiful images of their community, videos of skylines and construction cranes, cycling paths and happy families. Those may be beguiling emotional appeals to the "why" question, but no one is going to base business decisions on them.
For that, they need data. Dependable, robust data they can drill into, analyze, export and share - not static PDFs that can't anticipate their questions. Data that covers the whys unique to any specific business location decision: labor force, talent pool, consumer spending, demographics, business and industry information, supply chain logistics, GIS, incentive zones, housing, energy, broadband, etc. They'll want to do drive time analyses, use radius and polygon, compare communities, map suppliers.They'll want to visualize this with thematic heat maps and local layers.
Only then can they answer why they chose THIS specific community for their business. Why they wanted THIS particular site or property for their location. And to do that, they need the right online data tools. ZoomProspector Enterprise and our six stand-alone Intelligence Components put this information on the website pages site selectors and businesses are visiting. They can search, explore, and analyze to determine which communities meet their criteria, then search for sites and properties. Even better, you can see the searches they are doing with Lead Gen ID, so you aren't left in the dark wondering who's on your website and what they are seeking. Try it out here on ArizonaProspector.com.
Want to learn more? Contact us today for a customized assessment of your community's needs and a demo of the tools that can help you help them answer the why of site selection.