Someone’s Interested – Now What?

In my last couple of Chamber Chat’s, I have discussed the Economic Development side of the Chamber. In this article, I would like to explain what happens when someone
shows an interest in locating in our county.
The most important aspect to land a new business or industry is confidentiality. The person that handles Economic Development for the Berrien County Development Authority is Executive Director, Crissy Staley. She is the contact person if and when a company expresses interest in locating or expanding to our county.
Most companies keep their searches for a location or relocation confidential. This is usu-ally achieved by assigning their project a code name. In most cases, Staley is the only “allowed” contact in the community.
If the company or their representative requests a visit, it will be Staley who will be notified. For this visit, the company will have an agenda with a certain amount of time allotted and will include only the people requested by the company. This will definitely be the Development Authority Executive Director but could also extend to others in the community.
Remember in previous articles, competition to land a prospective business is fierce. Companies looking to locate in a county are looking for great incentives to even consider you. Incentives are usually the tie breakers if your county and another county, state or country is being considered. Since incentives are usually based around taxes, it is important that the in-centive policy is established before recruiting or being notified. Incentives won’t make a bad deal good but can make a good deal better.
The top location decision factors for a corporation is labor costs, highway accessibility, tax exemptions, energy availability and costs, corporate tax rate, availability of skilled labor, oc-cupancy/construction costs, state and local incentives, inbound and outbound shipping costs, environmental regulations and available land.
Think these are the only factors in the decision for a company when looking for a site to locate? Well, think again! The company is also looking for top quality of life factors which include crime rate, healthcare facilities, housing availability, housing costs, ratings of public schools, climate, recreational opportunities, colleges and universities in the area and cultural opportuni-ties.
See a picture emerging? It is not just in the hands of the Development Authority Executive Director and Development Authority Board. They have no control over the crime rate, rat-ings of public schools, climate, etc. It takes the entire community. It takes a community whose city and county governments can work together. It takes law enforcement personnel in the city and county that can assure that Berrien County has a low crime rate compared to other areas. It takes an excellent school system with high ratings! It takes Teamwork!
Take a look at our community. Look at the services and products that we have that meet the criteria a company deems important when making a decision to locate in our county. We must have committed leadership in all areas in order to put our best foot forward!
We are moving into our slow season for retail. I would like to remind everyone to Buy Berrien and during the month of July shopping local earns you a chance for local prizes and a Grand Prize each Friday for a chance to win $100 in Berrien Bucks during the Fantastic Friday promotion.
Sales tax revenues are slightly down from the month of April. Let’s take a look at our sales tax revenue for the month of May: LOST – Alapaha – $3,613.16; Enigma – $3,615.38; Nash-ville – $21,345.35; Ray City – $4,267.52; Berrien County – $72,995.85.  SPLOST – Berrien County Board of Commissioners – $105,837.20.  ELOST – Berrien County Board of Education – $106,956.71.  
Let’s strive to push our sales tax revenues up during the month of July by continuing to Buy Berrien. If you have any questions, concerns or ideas for the Chamber, give me a call and let’s chat!