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Q&A follow-up: What site selectors want ED pros to know

What do site selectors want economic development professionals to know? There were many great questions so our guest presenters agreed to answer them here

Alissa Sklar
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on April 25, 2019
Alissa Sklar
Vice President of Marketing

What do site selectors want economic development professionals to know? Turns out this is a question on many minds, as yesterday's webinar was one of the most popular titles in our 2019 webinar lineup so far. If you missed yesterday's webinar, you can check out the video recording by clicking here


closeup Google map commercial property pin heat mapThere were so many great questions and we didn't have time to get to them all, so I sent them off to our guest presenters, Tim Monger, Senior VP Incentives & Location Advisors, and Brittany Mann, VP, Incentives & Location Advisors, from RCRE.com. They generously took the time to answer them here. I've added some notes of my own to help readers find more information about how to do these with our data tools. 

  • What do you most value from economic development professionals versus what you prefer to secure on your own? The challenge for economic developers is providing information for at least two different audiences, site consultants and companies doing the site selection process themselves. For instance, site consultants have their own sources for demographic information, but a company may rely more on you and your web site. I(NOTE for GIS Planning clients - our ZoomProspector Enterprise and Intelligence Components tools provide thousands of data points on demographics, workforce, talent, consumer spending, business, industry, GIS and more. We can easily build in your own local data as well. Check out this overview of our newly redesigned ZoomProspector tool.)
  • We are seeing a trend of companies of all sizes taking on "site selection" on their own but this is putting more "support" resources from local economic development groups. Any thoughts or advice on this? As mentioned in the above response, you must be prepared for both companies looking on their own and site consultants.
  • Do you see more requests for greenfields or existing buildings regarding business attraction? We see about 75-80% of clients seeking existing building and 20-25% looking for greenfield. However, we’re site consultants in a commercial real estate firm and it may be different for other site consultants.
  • What type of real estate product do you find to be most scarce on the market? This is a question for your local commercial real estate firms.
  • What types of incentives are important? Tax Credits, Training & Tax Abatement seem to be the trifecta of incentives. (NOTE for GIS Planning clients - incentive zones can be easily added to your search filters and map layers in ZoomProspector Enterprise. Federal Opportunity Zones are automatically included for all U.S. clients.)
  • What else are you looking for from a local economic development website? Maps? Quality of Life? Etc.? We are looking for data and information specific to your community or region. This includes things such as property tax rates. (NOTE for GIS Planning clients - we can easily add your property tax information in a variety of ways. Contact support to learn more.)
  • Do you find that the mapping of Opportunity Zones is important? Since Federal Opportunity Zones are the “New Shiny Object,” you should at least provide maps of the areas that qualify so website visitors can search for properties and data in those areas. (NOTE for GIS Planning clients - we provide Opportunity Zone mapping and search filters for every community in the U.S. Click here to learn more.)
  • What kind of data do you use when making decisions for projects? We subscribe to Emsi. (NOTE for GIS Planning clients - it is possible to integrate this Emsi data into your ZoomProspector online data tool. Click here to learn how).
  • Please explain location quotients in more detail. Here’s a link to Emsi’s explanation - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ri6HPshDnWQ
  • What is the profile of a typical client that would utilize your firm or firms like yours to find a site? Fortune 500? A smaller, multiple location company? Single location enterprise? It is all over the board. Within a commercial real estate firm, we pair well with brokers that do Tenant Representation.
  • We are considering drone clips and/or videos for our larger, shovel ready sites. How valuable is this kind of visual or other attachments in your search efforts inside ZoomProspector (site document links)? If you can afford you should do it. Most commercial real estate firms are using drone clips.
  • In terms of IT infrastructure, what do you encourage communities to invest in to go after IT opportunities? It depends on what segment of IT, Data Centers, SaaS, etc. If you’re interested in data centers, a low electric rate is a critical starting point. For other areas of IT, workforce availability, growth & feeder system are critical.
  • How interested are clients in having to go through development/planning processes with greenfield land or existing buildings that do not have zoning permissions to permit their use(s)? Would it be more attractive if EDO's were willing to assist the purchaser through the planning process? This is an area where your community can differentiate itself. Both the consultant and company need some “hand holding.”

GIS data site selection data tools economic development strategy corporate site selection CRE