Economic developers across the world compete daily to win the battle to attract corporate investment in their communities to help create and retain jobs, increase tax revenues and diversify their local economies. The challenge is that these projects come in all shapes and sizes such as headquarters, call centers, data centers, distribution centers, manufacturing plants, software development and shared service centers. However, only certain communities will successfully work for each project due to labor availability, labor cost, accessibility, logistics, economic incentives, real estate and numerous other factors that are critical to the operation. In addition, each of these project types will impact a community in a different way which makes the matchmaking process extremely challenging. 

To help understand the matchmaking process, Site Selection Group has identified some of the most critical site selection factors evaluated and 25 of the most impactful projects of 2016. To identify where the most impactful projects landed in 2016, we reviewed more than 7,000 projects announced in the United States to find the 25 projects that may have the greatest potential impact on the local and regional economies where the project located. This filtering took into consideration the size of the community, project type, capital investment, job creation and other economic impact considerations.

Understanding the site selection process used by most companies is critical
The site selection process has become more sophisticated than ever due to the tremendous amount of location data available, political exposure in today’s business climate, and financial implications of structuring the deal in the wrong way. One wrong turn or bad move can negatively impact the company as well as the community selected. To help minimize the risk of making the wrong decision, many companies will evaluate the following location factors when deciding where to locate: 

  1. Labor availability – labor market scalability, skillsets and market longevity
  2. Labor cost – Competitive wages, benefits and tax structure
  3. Accessibility — By management and customers
  4. Logistics — Inbound materials and outbound products
  5. Business climate — Corporate taxes and labor laws
  6. Geo-political risks – Crime and corruption
  7. Economic incentives — Tax credits, tax abatements, training grants, etc.
  8. Real estate – Availability and costs
  9. Regulatory environment – Environmental and business regulations
  10. Utilities and infrastructure – Power, fiber and water

The weighting of importance of these criteria will vary depending on the type of project. Therefore, it is critical to put together the right site selection team early in the process to avoid problems down the road.

Measuring the economic impact of a project is challenging
Measuring the potential impact of a project has become more important than ever as economic development organizations try to justify why they offer companies economic incentives. A great example is in Texas where the state requires an economic impact analysis be conducted prior to the approval of certain economic incentive programs. These models will often evaluate the following factors:

  • Job creation – creation of new jobs by the company, construction firms and vendors
  • Property tax revenue – creation of taxable real and personal property
  • Sales tax revenue – creation of tax revenue for new equipment and construction material purchases
  • Wage base – increase in overall wage base in the region
  • Infrastructure improvements – addition of or upgrades to highways, roads, utilities, fiber, etc.
  • Attraction of other companies – expansion of suppliers and vendors
  • Consumer expenditures – increase of consumer expenditures around the site
  • Commercial real estate development – construction of retail, office and industrial development around the site
  • Residential development – construction of single-family and multifamily housing
  • Increased property values – growth in residential and commercial property values
  • Positive economic development perception – attraction of more companies by leveraging past successes.

The most impactful site selection projects in 2016 ranked by jobs
The following projects ranked by number of jobs created were identified by Site Selection Group as some of the most impactful announcements of 2016.

Company Location Project Type # of Jobs Capex ($M)
Liberty Mutual Insurance Plano, TX Regional Operations Center 5,000 $355
JPMorgan Chase Plano, TX Regional Operations Center 4,800 $220
Continental Tire Clinton, MS Manufacturing 2,500 $1,450
Maximus Gates, NY Call Center 2,100 $17
Lucid Motors Casa Grande, AZ Manufacturing 2,000 $700
Anthem Atlanta, GA IT Services Center 1,800 $20
ADP Norfolk, VA Call Center 1,800 $32
ADP Maitland, FL Call Center 1,600 $28
Compucom Systems Rock Hill, SC Headquarters 1,500 $41
Amazon.com Etna, OH Distribution Center 1,500 $220
Athenex Multiple Sites, NY Manufacturing 1,400 $1,620.0
Charles Schwab Westlake, TX Regional Operations Center 1,200 $100
AmerisourceBergen Carrollton, TX Regional Headquarters 1,184 $113
Sentury Tire La Grange, GA Manufacturing 1,000 $530
Farmers Insurance Exchange Phoenix, AZ Regional Operations Center 1,000 $23
McKesson Irving, TX Regional Operations Center 975 $157
Prestage Farms Mason City, IA Food Processing 922 $239
Michelin Spartanburg, SC Manufacturing 350 $270
GF Linamar Mills River, NC Manufacturing 350 $270
GE Aviation Systems Huntsville, AL Manufacturing 300 $200
Shandong Sun Paper Industry Arkadelphia, AR Manufacturing 250 $1,000
Teijin Limited Greenwood, SC Manufacturing 220 $600
Microsoft West Des Moines, IA Data Center 133 $2,000
Google Clarksville, TN Data Center 70 $600
Facebook Ft. Worth, TX Data Center 50 $1,200

Corporate Real Estate Services

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