In my last article, we took a look at the Economic Development side of the Berrien County Chamber. In this article, we will take a look at the keys to new business development. The first step to new business development is to understand the process. The average citizen usually does not know what is involved in new business development. They may just see a lot of empty buildings throughout the community or a lot of land left in the existing industrial park and think that the Chamber or Development Authority is ineffective. Let’s take a look at what is involved in landing a new business development so that you can understand the process better.
Once the process begins, the economic developer must possess a big keyring in order to land a new business development in the community. The economic developer must thoroughly understand each key, what it unlocks, its importance and be able to use each key effectively.
Key #1 – It is a very competitive GLOBAL climate. It is estimated that annually about 1,500 U.S. prospects are looking to relocate or expand. There are over 15,000 economic developers vying for these projects just in the United States. Keep in mind other countries are also looking at these prospects also. Of these 1,500 projects two-thirds will create less than 100 new jobs. Eighty percent of these are looking for an existing building but may change their mind in the middle of the project. Of these 1,500 projects, an estimated seventy-five percent will locate in an urban area and an estimated twenty-five percent will located in rural areas. An estimated half or more will postpone or cancel their project at some time during the process.
Key #2 – Technology rules. Almost all projects begin with an internet search, either by the company or a by a hired consultant. The community, Chamber or Development Authority website is KEY as to whether or not a community will be considered at all. The website must be complete and have all the information needed for a thorough review. It should be reviewed and updated frequently and the “official” site for your community should be in the first hits in Google.
Key #3 – Elimination is the name of the game. The website is the economic developer’s first opportunity to stay in the game. If the website makes the cut, you may actually find out you are being considered. The typical next step is contact by the company or hired consultant with a statewide economic development organization – either the Department of Economic Development or a utility. The information they receive from these resources will be used to further the ELIMINATION process.
Key #4 – The role of State and Regional Developers is vital. These agencies provide information to the prospect or consultant based on their project criteria. They also provide logistical support for the prospect’s visit to the state. It is also their job to facilitate the site location process in Georgia for the prospect.
Key #5 – If the company has hired a consultant, they are paid to manage the site selection process for the prospect. The consultant may conduct all negotiations on behalf of the prospect or be part of a team of consultants involved in the project. It is vital that the consultant be treated as if they are the prospect. The consultant or team of consultants are paid to help the prospect make a location decision so they have a lot of influence over the prospect’s location decision.
Key #6 – It is vital that the community has a person skilled in Economic Development in place. When your community is being considered for a project, it is this person that will be contacted with an RFI or a Request for Information. The response time of the community’s economic developer is critical. Requested deadlines must be met or once again, the community will be eliminated. It is also critical that all marketing and informational materials for the community be transmittable via the internet. You can forget faxes, USPS, FedX, or UPS! Remember other communities are being considered also and speed is the name of the game! In this case, the old saying, “The early bird gets the worm.” may be very true.
Each of these keys are vital to landing a new business development. As you can see, it is a very complicated process. A great economic developer keeps in contact with the state and regional agencies within the Department of Economic Development and maintains communication with economic developers within the various utility companies. The community’s economic developer should be known in all areas of economic development throughout the region and state.
I hope this gives you some insight into the economic development process of landing new business development. There are lot of other things involved when a company expresses an interest in the community but I will discuss this in my next article.
Now, let’s take a look at our recent sales tax numbers. In April 2016, sales tax revenues were as follows: LOST – Alapaha – $3,824.39; Enigma – $3,824.69; Nashville – $22,600.85; Ray City – $4,519.85; Berrien County – $77,388.00. SPLOST – Berrien County Board of County Commissioners – $112,157.59. ELOST – Berrien County Board of Education – $113,337.30. All municipalities as well as the Berrien Board of Commissioners and Board of Education sales tax revenues were up in the month of April. May numbers will be reported in my next article.
It is great that our sales tax revenues were up. Let’s keep it that way by simply buying in Berrien County. If you have any concerns, questions or ideas for the Chamber, give me a call and let’s chat!