The City of Sierra Vista was a primary sponsor of the annual Site Selector’s Guild Conference that was recently held in Tucson, and for a nominal fee, the SEAGO Economic Development Program was honored to have had the opportunity to piggy-back on the City’s sponsorship and participate in the conference. The Site Selector’s Guild is an organization comprised of national and international professionals assisting companies in analyzing favorable communities for relocation or expansion opportunities.
Attending the conference was an enlightening and positive experience in terms of understanding the key elements that site selectors are looking for in determining optimum locations and business opportunities, as well as the opportunity to network with professionals who are instrumental in helping businesses making site selection decisions. While every sector has industry-specific relocation or expansion requirements, according to site selectors, the following core criteria are among the most important considerations for all businesses:
Workforce - The emphasis on workforce availability focuses on three primary issues: The immediate availability of a trained workforce; the ease with which a trained workforce can be attracted to an area; and a community’s “readiness” to provide workforce training to meet a company’s workforce needs. One site selector made an interesting observation that “companies are chasing millennials” to meet their current and future workforce needs.
Shovel Ready Sites - Whether or not a community has an available inventory of existing building space, or has sites that are immediately available for development, is often an important site selection criteria.
Sufficient Infrastructure - The availability of sufficient infrastructure is also an important site selection consideration. Such things as adequate water resources, access to good transportation infrastructure, and high quality internet bandwidth are some of these important site selection criteria.
Quality Education - The quality of a community’s education system is an essential criteria to attract qualified employees from another location to work for a company. This important site selection criterion includes both a community’s K-12 school system, and the availability of quality higher education. Businesses are looking at this issue from these key perspectives: The quality of a community’s educational system as it relates to the Workforce criterion above; and the quality of education as it relates to the children of a company’s current executives and other key professionals the company will need to attract to the community to be successful.
Community Livability - A community’s livability is, like beauty, in the “eye of the beholder” and is largely a subjective determination. However, several site selectors indicated that it is, indeed, an important consideration as companies look at the community attributes that will attract qualified employees and retain them once they have arrived. Site selectors look at a community and its surrounding area for attributes such as things to do, things to see, housing availability and diversity, community appearance, and social, art, and cultural amenities.
Viable Incentives - While many communities focus on incentives to attract a business to the community, several site selectors indicated that incentives can be a tie breaking factor when comparing one community against another, but become important considerations only after some of the threshold criteria above and other company-specific criteria are met.
SEAGO looks forward to developing solid working relationships with site selectors that attended the conference, and working with our economic development partners to ensure the essential site selection criteria that were expressed in the conference are present in the communities within our region.