Monday, March 9, 2015

VIEW FROM THE TOP: How Do We Solve the Long-Term Unemployment Crisis? by Larry Gigerich

Managing Director

As appeared on Inside Indiana Business

The United States continues to struggle with how to help people who have been unemployed (including ex-offenders) for a lengthy period of time. It is important to the future of our nation and economy that we implement innovative ways to address this vital issue. So, how do we do it?

There are not any easy answers to this problem. Employers are often concerned about hiring people who have been unemployed for a long period of time. Issues, such as educational achievement, dependability, work ethic and drive, factor in when companies look at candidates. While not necessarily fair, the stigma is real.

Many states are implementing creative ideas to try to solve this issue. The federal government can certainly provide financial support to help in this endeavor, but cities and states are best positioned to shape initiatives to help its residents. Several states are attempting to address the issue:

1. New Jersey: The state has implemented the Jobs4Jersey training program that not only helps with the training of its citizens, but also matches companies and candidates, links people to training resources and provides information regarding skills required for different types of positions.

2. Utah: The state has implemented an innovative training program to upgrade the skills of the unemployed to be positioned to fill job openings from growing businesses. Funding can be used directly by individuals for education, credentials or certifications.

3. Connecticut: The state has partnered with non-profit, The Workplace, to launch the Platform to Employment program statewide. The program works with regional Workforce Investment Boards throughout the state to help unemployed people who have exhausted their unemployment benefits to upgrade their skills.

In particular, the Platform to Employment program has gained significant momentum throughout the United States. Today, approximately 40 states are testing this program on a local, regional or state basis:

1. Pays the worker’s salary for the first two months of employment. This helps mitigate the risk a company takes in hiring someone who has been chronically unemployed. This component of the program reports a 90 percent success rate nationally.

2. Works with people who have been unemployed for a long period of time to boost confidence and help with job preparedness skills.

3. Accepts people into the program that have demonstrated work skills in the past. Sometimes, these candidates need skills upgrade, but most often, preparing a resume, social media training and confidence in using computers are the biggest impediments that they face.

4. Funds come from private donors, foundations and governmental entities (local, state and federal).

5. Works with candidates from all socioeconomic backgrounds, educational achievement levels and previous job experiences.

In a report by the Pew Research, a recent study sent thousands of mock resumes to employers with job openings and found that the longer a candidate had been unemployed, the less interested the employer was in interviewing the candidate. The drop-off was extremely sharp if someone had been out of work for six or more months.

Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, there are approximately three million people who have been unemployed for more than six months. This represents approximately one-third of everyone who is currently unemployed. This is the highest in the history of our country; the previous high was 26 percent. This shows that the challenge that our country faces is even greater than one may think and a solution is critical.

In a Brookings Institute report, only 11 percent of chronically unemployed people who have found work are continuously employed, meaning that the remaining 89 percent are either employed on a part-time basis or are employed, laid off and then rehired on a sporadic basis. In addition, the most recent five-year economic downturn has been different than previous recessions. In the past, workers were rehired in similar positions. The most recent recession has resulted in employees accepting positions that they are overqualified for and/or at a much lower salary level.

Indiana is currently implementing some elements of the Platform to Employment program. In the next few years, Indiana should be able to evaluate how the state is faring with this new program. However, it is important for local and regional areas to embrace this effort. They are the ones closest to the problem and are best suited to help prescribe a solution.

In summary, we have an economic and moral obligation to collaborate to solve this issue. Every member of our society has value and we have a responsibility to implement solutions to help the chronically unemployed. The cities, regions and states that solve this problem first, will be the economic winners in the future.

About Larry Gigerich: Larry Gigerich serves as Managing Director of Ginovus, an Indianapolis-based economic development advisory services firm. Ginovus is a leading provider of national site selection, public policy development, community comparative analysis and economic development incentive procurement & management services to private sector, educational, governmental and not-for-profit organizations. Click here to visit the Ginovus website.

The Power of a Spectacular Team

They sure make us better

By: Jim Walton
Brand Acceleration, Inc.
The other day, I was sitting at a bar in the Atlanta airport, waiting for my flight to begin boarding. Along with a couple fellow road warriors, we chatted about the life of a business traveler and thanked our lucky stars for our support teams. Although I had internet connection and my tablet, I was acutely aware of the vast amount of work taking place in my absence.

Our Team Makes Us Better:
For anyone not aware of what it takes to manage a constant flow of economic development branding and marketing projects, our team includes brand strategists, writers, designers, public relations experts, videographers, web programmers, and a top flight project management team. When some of us are traveling to client meetings, conferences, speaking engagements, and an occasional vacation, the work still has to get done. It’s a beautifully-orchestrated thing, pushing projects through the pipeline, on time and on budget. With a workload that includes the development of community logos, slogans, websites, videos, brochures, e-mail campaigns, social media marketing, and countless other tactics, we couldn’t make it all happen without this group of professional marketers.

Our Advisors:
We also understand that we don’t have all the answers. Our clients throw us new challenges almost every day, and when something comes up that’s a bit puzzling, we have an Advisory Board made up of industry leaders who almost always have an answer. This august group is made up of specialists in regionalism, workforce, business retention and expansion, site selection, and young professionals (YPs). Having such a great group of friends and advisors on our team helps us to better serve our clients and the economic development industry. Sometimes, we even bring these people directly into a client project, adding them to the paid professional team.

Our Allies:
I learned a long time ago that there is no way that Brand Acceleration can, or should, try to be all things to all people. Because my philosophy is to do one thing, economic development marketing, and be the best in that category, we still seek avenues to serve client needs through allied relationships. Being the perfectionists that we are, we won’t send clients to just anyone. The last thing we want is to hear that we referred a client to a company that provided inferior service. Getting on our referral list is no easy task. We know these people very well before we ever refer them.

So, when our clients and friends have needs for such services as competitive analysis, workforce and skills assessment, strategic planning, site location advisement, lead generation, fund raising, incentives evaluation, GIS services, and several others, we can steer them to trustworthy leaders.

When my flight finally boarded, I left with confidence that over our eight years in business, we have put together a team that allows me to recline my seat, close my eyes, and know that all is well in my world.

My best wishes to you for similar solitude,

Jim Walton
Brand Acceleration, Inc.
Branding // Marketing Communications // Public Relations
Indianapolis, Indiana
Office: 317.536.6255
Cell: 317.523.7380

Brand Acceleration is a full-service marketing communications, brand management and website development firm with a focus on community and economic development.

Good News: 3-9-2015

Here are just a few of the recent jobs announcements that have crossed my desk in recent weeks.

In Hopkinsville, Kentucky, farm equipment maker Fimco, Inc. will open and create 15 jobs. Congrats to economic developer Mitch Robinson, CEcD.

Plastic container maker IRIS USA will open in Surprise, Arizona, creating 100 jobs. Congrats to site consultant Larry Gigerich of Ginovus.

In Boone County, Indiana, D-A Lubricant, Inc., a provider of auto lubricants, will expand and create 25 jobs. Congrats to economic developer and Brand Acceleration client Molly Whitehead.

Engineering and construction firm Bechtel Corporation will open its headquarters in Reston, Virginia, creating 700 jobs.

In Troy, Michigan, ORBBEC 3D Technology International will open and hire 40 workers.

In Hillsboro, Oregon, identity management firm Eid Passport, Inc. will expand and hire 40 people.

Physical fitness products provider Prophet Corporation will expand and add 12 jobs in Owatonna, Minnesota.

In Indianapolis, Indiana, Langham Logistics will expand and hire 20 people.

Medical services provider Medytox Solutions, Inc. will open in West Palm Beach, Florida, creating 60 jobs.

In Lake Odessa, Michigan, food processor Cargill Kitchen Solutions, Inc. will expand and create 35 jobs.

SHALAG US, Inc., a maker of non-woven materials, will expand and create 40 jobs in Granville County, NC.

Porcelain tile maker Gruppo Concorde will open a facility in Maury County, Tennessee, creating 180 jobs.

In Madison, Wisconsin, healthcare services provider Exact Sciences Corporation will expand and hire 750 people.

In Henderson County, North Carolina, biopharma company RAUMEDIC will locate and hire 138 people.

In Livingston, Louisiana, EPIC Piping, a maker of pipe products, will open and hire 560 people.

SAW Capital, LLC, a business solutions firm, will expand in Indianapolis, Indiana, creating 29 jobs.

In Harbor Beach, Michigan, food products maker SensientFlavors will expand and create 28 jobs.

Metalplate Galvanizing, a hot-dip galvanizing provider, will open in Jennings, Louisiana, creating 104 jobs.

In Union County, North Carolina, safety products maker Scott Technologies, Inc. will expand and hire 67 workers.

In Winfield, Kansas, Newell Rubbermaid will expand and add 320 employees.

HealthX, Inc., a provider of technology to the healthcare industry, will expand in Indianapolis, Indiana, creating 40 jobs.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, food maker Frito-Lay will expand and create 35 jobs.

Thermal management technology provider Gentherm, Inc. will expand in Farmington Hills, Michigan, creating 150 jobs.

In Natchez, Mississippi, resource recovery company Delta-Energy Group, LLC will open and create 91 jobs.

Target Corporation will open an online order fulfillment center in York County, Pennsylvania, creating 250 jobs.

In Indianapolis, Indiana, defense and security services provider Raytheon will expand and hire 250 people.

Polymer and adhesive maker Specialty Polymers will expand in Chester County, South Carolina, creating 5 jobs.

In Petersburg, Virginia, Big Trouble Malting and Spirits will open a facility, creating 9 jobs.

Mig Molding, a plastics company, will open in the Village of Almont, Michigan, creating 35 jobs.

Machinery and engine maker Caterpillar will expand in LaGrange, Georgia, creating 50 jobs.

In Holland Charter Township, Michigan, office furniture maker OMT-VEYHL USA will expand and create 206 jobs.

Pharma and chemical company TriclinicLabs, Inc. will open in Lafayette, Indiana, creating 10 jobs.

In Hoke County, North Carolina, Butterball, LLC will expand and hire 367 people.

In New York’s Mohawk Valley, Amsterdam Printing and Litho will expand and create 40 jobs.

In Hancock County, Indiana, John Morrell Food Group will open a distribution center and hire 260 workers. Congrats to economic developer and Brand Acceleration client Skip Kuker.

Machine services provider Toolamation Services, Inc. will open in Kenosha, Wisconsin, hiring 65 people.

In Jacksonville, Florida, Volkswagen will open a distribution center and hire 100 people.

Precision manufacturer LIEPOLD, Inc. will expand and hire 20 people in Windsor, Connecticut.

In Lake County, Indiana, stair systems maker American Stair Corporation, Inc. will open and create 180 jobs.

In Fort Mill, South Carolina, Furniture HomeStore will establish a corporate campus and hire 200 people. Congrats to economic developer David Swenson.

Biopharma company Cardio3 BioSciences will open in Rochester, Minnesota, creating 33 jobs.

In Chicago, Illinois, MeadJohnson, a maker of pediatric nutrition products, will locate its headquarters and hire 200 people.

Stratice Healthcare, LLC, a provider of healthcare technology, will expand in Hamilton County, Indiana, creating 43 jobs.

Total Jobs Announcements: 5,702

Jim Walton
Brand Acceleration, Inc.
Branding // Marketing Communications // Public Relations
Indianapolis, Indiana:
Office: 317.536.6255
Fax: 317.222.1425
Cell: 317.523.7380


Brand Acceleration is a full-service website development, marketing communications, branding, and public relations firm with a focus on economic and community development.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

VIEW FROM THE TOP: Site Selection Trends and Factors in the Food Processing Industry, By Jay Garner

© Garner Economics, LLC.  All rights reserved.

If there is such a thing as a recession-proof industry, the Food and Beverage (F&B) Industry is it. During good times and bad times, people eat (and drink). Whether the economy is experiencing unprecedented growth or recession, folks continue to consume food and drink products.  Some eat to live while others live to eat. Some eat in, while others eat out. Today, the F&B Industry continues to expand and to evolve in order to meet the ever-changing demands of consumers.

In the United States 30,135 companies are defined as F&B process manufacturers (up by more than 1,500 companies since 2010). These businesses employ more than 1.4 million employees.  However, a 47,000 decrease in employees since 2010 demonstrates how innovative manufacturing processes and automation can mean fewer jobs. Where are the growth opportunities? Organics and naturals; ready-to-eat; health and wellness; ethnic; and comfort foods have seen the highest instances of development.

Economic development professionals that meet F&B company location requirements should actively recruit this viable industry sector. Water availability and capacity is the number one consideration in the location analysis process, followed by wastewater options and labor availability.

The following are the five key sectors that comprise the food processing industry:

·        - Meat, Seafood and Poultry
·        - Fruits and Vegetables
·       -  Beverages
·        - Bakery
·       -  Dairy
California leads the way, followed by New York and Texas In the top 10 ranking of states with food processing facilities (see chart below).

Click Chart to Enlarge
As a firm that specializes in siting food-processing facilities, Garner Economics sees eight areas of growth opportunities and location trends in the F&B sector.  They include:

11.  Organics and Naturals.  Once viewed as fads, organics and naturals  are here to stay, despite the costs associated with growing and processing. United States Department of Agriculture guidelines limiting toxic or persistent fertilizers and pesticides have precluded large-scale corporate organics farming. Consequently, smaller farming operations produce organics, and the projects associated with them, too, are small in scope and size.

22. Specialized beverages.  Infused drinks or nutraceuticals, such as vitamin water, green tea and fruit drinks, are showing considerable growth. Conversely, conventional soft drinks (sugar drinks) are indicating a history of flat or declining sales.

33. Ready-to-Eat. At the present time there is a high consumer demand for prepared foods. In the last decade, grocer freezer sections have expanded to accommodate a plethora of oven-ready meals. Companies that manufacture ready-to-eat meals typically employ sizeable kitchen staffs which process, prepare and cook the product prior to packaging. Having a culinary program in your community is a great tool in selling this opportunity to F&B companies that need those skill sets.

44. Private Label Brands. Economic developers should focus on grocers that have a private label brand processor. Cost conscience consumerism today has driven increasingly more grocers to manufacture their own label products, resulting in private brands occupying significant shelf space. (Publix, a grocery chain based in Lakeland, FL, has eleven product manufacturing facilities.)

55. Grow Local/Build Locally (a key location trend). Energy costs, particularly high fuel prices, are propelling manufacturing and distribution facilities, including food-processing companies, to carefully consider location decisions. Proximity to suppliers and consumers is central, evidenced by the trend in processing facilities being built near farms. Instead of from farm to table, it is from farm to plant. Companies with exorbitant annual expenditures in energy costs would naturally opt for locations close to major transportation arteries. This may change if oil prices continue to fall below $60 a barrel.

66. Health and Wellness (including animals). These products provide ingredients that target certain conditions, such as high cholesterol. They will remain popular with consumers as they age and become more concerned with daily health choices. More growth is expected in this subsector since the profit margins are greater for companies with these value-added items.

77. Age Awareness and Portion Control Products. Age awareness products address the nutritional needs of children, seniors and pets. Portion control products, such as 100-calorie snack pack foods, make it easy for consumers to monitor calories while eating on the go. Many processors are either retooling their product lines to accommodate consumer demand for this or building new facilities.

88. Ethnic Foods. Ethnic foods, especially Hispanic, account for the largest consumer growth in specialty foods. An expansive Hispanic market is responsible for the sizable growth in California facilities.  Based on changes in U.S. demographics, this trend should continue.

The foremost issues facing F&B companies are food safety; energy and utility cost and availability; incentives; and supplier risk management.

Primary food safety concerns for food companies are contamination, product tampering and terrorist threats. A salmonella outbreak at an egg or peanut processor, for example, can create far-reaching problems for company, product and community. Garner Economics worked with a South Georgia community that experienced a salmonella outbreak in a peanut processing plant.  Because the company was a dominant employer in town, the community was affected when the company ceased operations and ultimately went out of business.

F&B facilities carefully consider energy and utility costs, plus utility availability, when analyzing and executing location decisions. Higher energy costs have resulted in facilities strategically being placed close to interstate highways and major arteries. Water is a major utility component for food processing companies, utilized as an ingredient, a sanitizer agent, a cleaning tool, and as a mover of materials. Communities without excess water capacity will not be on company or consultant’s radar.

Incentives also can play a role in F&B facility location decisions. Because equipment costs often are more than buildings, companies value incentives. Finally, during this past recession, some food processor suppliers who were highly leveraged did not survive. As a result, some food processing companies had to scramble to find suppliers for needed product or commodities. There are more processors today that also will own or control the commodity and are better prepared to weather economic cycles.

In summary, Garner Economics sees continued growth annually in the following F&B Industry sectors: Organics and naturals; specialized beverages; ready-to-eat; private label brands; health and wellness; age awareness/portion control products and ethnic foods. States, regions and communities must strive to create innovative ways to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive F&B location field. Does your community have (at least) one food processor of moderate size? If the answer is, “yes,” the likelihood is there is that there is infrastructure to accommodate more. 

About Jay Garner: Jay A. Garner, CEcD, CCE is the president and founder of Garner Economics, LLC, an economic development and site location consulting firm headquartered in Atlanta, GA, with representative offices in Berlin, Germany and Seoul, Korea.  Jay often lectures and provides counsel on creating and implementing proactive global business development strategies and tactics. His firm is also a leader in providing assistance to corporate clients in their site selection process, such as Anchor Glass, Academy Sports, Hatfield Quality Meats, Stork Food Systems, Future Pipe Industries and others. Garner Economics and Primus builders have partnered to create one of the most extensive certification initiatives in the economic development and food/beverage industry. Their goal is to help communities prepare for the location of F&B projects, which also helps companies in that industry sector (many of whom are our current clients) understand that a community has met Primus / Garner's rigorous review requirements. To learn more about the Primus/Garner Food Site Certification designation, click here.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Focused on Excellence

Avoid mediocrity and overconfidence

By: Jim Walton
Brand Acceleration, Inc.
Having lived through several economic cycles, I’ve seen more than a few recessions and recoveries. I’ve also seen companies succeed or fail because of the ability or inability to manage the shifts. It has always amazed me to watch how business owners respond to times of feast and famine.

During tough times, just as in the business startup period, business owners will do just about anything for a client. They pull out all the stops, providing excellent service and delivering well above customer expectations. Then, when the economy improves and business is good, owners often forget the importance of excellence and become complacent and arrogant, often killing their golden goose.

In the marketing and public relations business, history is littered with the dry white bones of agencies that were once darlings of the industry. They often forgot what caused their success and then died a painful and embarrassing death.

I remember one agency that was launched by four bright young men who had outstanding backgrounds and buckets of talent and creativity. They worked hard, dazzled their clients, and grew their agency into a company where people wanted to work and with which companies wanted to do business. The company began attracting larger clients and cash poured in. Cha-ching!

A series of painful mistakes
But then, something changed. The four owners forgot their humble beginnings. They became proud and arrogant, making dumb moves that clients and employees seriously disliked.

One of the first things that got noticed was that the owners were unavailable. Scheduling a meeting or phone conversation with them was nearly impossible. They were just too busy for such things.

Then, in an effort to grow revenues and maximize their very valuable time, they dramatically raised prices and installed software to track every billable minute. When a client called, the clock was started and charges were tallied.

A painful ending
Over time, many of the agency’s original and smaller clients vanished, along with much of its best talent. A handful of larger clients remained and the company was seriously vulnerable. One day, the firm’s largest client announced that it was leaving, going to another agency. Ironically, the new agency was a small boutique firm, owned by a group of hungry owners who would do anything for their clients. In short order, this once proud company lost its luster and suffered an agonizing and sad demise. Jobs were lost, homes were lost, and many people were hurt.

Last week, I was in a community, visiting with economic developers, elected officials, and community stakeholders, listening to their passion for economic growth. With a somewhat high unemployment rate, these people are willing to do whatever it takes for jobs and investment. They told me stories of the extremes to which they go to attract and court employers. Their “whatever it takes” approach is encouraging to see. Whether a project will bring ten jobs or hundreds makes no difference. These people will tear down any barriers to make the deal happen. Period.

My promise
At Brand Acceleration, we’ve been blessed with great success. In just a few years, we’ve grown into a leading marketing, public relations, and website development firm by remaining passionately focused on providing excellent service in one industry – economic development. My promise is that we will never forget who brought us to this point.

Our wonderful clients have entrusted us with a very important place on their teams. A role we will never take for granted. They see us as more than just a vendor. They understand that we are part of the team and will do whatever it takes to help them succeed.

I also know that if it were not for our team of brand strategists, researchers, writers, designers, programmers, videographers, and expert vendors, we could never deliver such a high level of excellence.

And, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our valued allies. We can’t do everything and proudly rely on friends to provide such services as community assessment, workforce development, site consulting, business retention and expansion counsel, lead generation, GIS services, fundraising, and countless others. We know we always have friends who can work alongside us to serve the needs of our clients.

As we move into the New Year, my promise to our clients, staff, allies, and the economic development industry is to provide excellent service and fare pricing. We will always live up to our promises and will never let you down. I know we play an important part and promise to remain focused on your success.

Thank you very much,

Jim Walton
Brand Acceleration, Inc.
Branding // Marketing Communications // Public Relations
Indianapolis, Indiana:
Office: 317.536.6255
Cell: 317.523.7380

Brand Acceleration is a full-service marketing communications, brand management and website development firm with a focus on community and economic development.

Good Economic News

Here are just a few of the recent jobs announcements that have crossed my desk in recent weeks.

In Montgomery City, Missouri, potato chip and snack maker Uncle Ray’s will open and hire 110 people.

In Greensboro, North Carolina, chemical company Ecolab, Inc. will expand and create 45 jobs.

In Joplin, Missouri, shed maker Cook Portable warehouses will open and hire 80 people. Congrats to economic developer Rob O’Brian.

NHK International Corporation, a maker of auto suspensions, will grow in Novi, Michigan, creating 26 jobs.

In York County, South Carolina, precision products maker Schaeffler Group North America will expand and create 112 jobs. Congrats to economic developer David Swenson.

In Richland, South Carolina, food distributor Hardon House Food Products will expand and hire 55 people.

Agility Fuel Systems, a maker of vehicle fuel systems, will open in Rowan County, North Carolina, creating 149 jobs. Congrats to economic developer Robert Van Geons.

CGI will open a facility in Lafayette, Louisiana, creating 400 jobs.

Mercedes-Benz USA will open its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, creating 800 jobs.

In Clark County, Indiana, plastics compounders Chemtrusion, Inc. and MyTex Polymers USA Corporation will expand and hire 11 workers.

In Buncombe County, North Carolina, White Labs, Inc., a provider to the brewing and wine industries, will open and hire 56 people.

Biopharma products supplier Emergent BioSolutions will expand in Baltimore, Maryland, creating 158 jobs.

In Athens, Tennessee, auto component maker Denso will expand and create 400 jobs.

In Fitzgerald-Ben Hill County, Georgia, wood processing startup Choice Wood, Inc. will create 50 jobs.

Medical device maker SGS Specialty Group will expand in Columbia City, Indiana, creating 17 jobs.

Auto components maker Android Industries will expand and hire 131 workers in Detroit, Michigan.

In Scott County, Indiana, label maker Multi-Color Corporation will expand and create 154 jobs. Congrats to economic developer Robert Peacock.

Educational supply company will expand and hire 44 people in Kansas City, Missouri.

In Bowling Green, Kentucky, KapStone Container Corporation will expand and create 30 jobs.

Merritt Island Boat Works will open in Brevard County, Florida, creating 380 jobs.

In Dooly County, Georgia, Tyson Foods will expand and hire 500 people.

Plastics maker Sirmax North America, Inc. will open in Anderson, Indiana, creating 50 jobs.

Rite Aid Corporation will open a distribution center in Spartanburg, South Carolina, creating 600 jobs.

In Walker, Michigan, seating maker Irwin Seating Company will expand and add 60 workers.

In Gwinnett, Georgia, Validation & Engineering Group will open and hire 20 people.

Auto components maker LOC Performance Products, Inc. will expand in Plymouth, Michigan, hiring 95 people.

Polydeck Screen Corporation, a maker of screen media, will expand in Spartanburg, South Carolina, creating 40 jobs.

In Mesa, Arizona, Apple Computer will open a command center and hire 150 workers.

Logistics provider Bluegrass Supply Chain Services will expand in Bowling Green, Kentucky, creating 55 jobs.

Auto supplier OMR Automotive will open in Speedway, Indiana, and hire 60 people.

Vinegar maker Marukan will open and hire 15 people in Spalding County, Georgia.

Near Lake Charles, Louisiana, Live Oak LNG will open a liquefied natural gas facility and hire 100 workers.

Metal stamping company Lincoln Manufacturing USA, LLC will expand in Stanford, Kentucky, adding 20 employees.

In Natchez, Mississippi, paper products supplier Von Drehle will open and create 100 jobs.

In Fayette County, Georgia, Osmose Utilities Services will open and hire 100 people.

Total Jobs Announcements: 5,173

Jim Walton
Brand Acceleration, Inc.
Branding // Marketing Communications // Public Relations
Indianapolis, Indiana:
Office: 317.536.6255
Fax: 317.222.1425
Cell: 317.523.7380


Brand Acceleration is a full-service website development, marketing communications, branding, and public relations firm with a focus on economic and community development.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

VIEW FROM THE TOP: Doing Your Diligence – Foregoing Assumptions, by Courtney Dunbar

Economic Development Leader, Industrial Site Consulting Team
One of the hottest economic development trends right now involves site certification. Site certification involves identifying a list of diligence factors, assessing a site for assets and deficiencies, curing deficiencies, and then preparing the site to accommodate prospective users.

While site certification programs are helpful in quickly identifying site attributes, these programs were never intended to be all-encompassing. The programs just weren't designed to replace thoroughly assessing a site for suitability to specific, individual users. That responsibility resides with the site selector and the company to make the decision on the location for the business' new home. Site selection decisions are optimally made following a thorough site diligence investigation.

Why Diligence Matters
The average American will state that the largest capital investment they will make in their lifetime will be their homes. Now, if you own a home, consider all of the diligence you underwent in making the decision to purchase. You likely checked the school district, the transportation routes to areas of personal significance, the home's condition, the property's suitability, the property tax rates, and the proximity to services. Diligence matters.

Now, consider the site selection process for an industry. Company representatives are making multimillion- if not multibillion-dollar capital investments when they invest in a site. The products they produce require significant infrastructure support and capacity.

Labor matters. Roads matter. Rail matters. Zoning matters. Other analytical site preparedness items matter. Timeliness to market is paramount. An underestimation of a site's ability to serve specific industrial needs can result in catastrophic outcomes, including closures, layoffs, or worse. Diligence matters.

It is critical for companies to thoroughly perform the due diligence and planning of industrial sites as part of the location decision-making process. Companies simply cannot afford to take a risk on a "maybe this site can serve" or "we think we can obtain property control. Absolutely, without a doubt, risk avoidance in the form of site preparedness is crucial to site selection decisions.

No Shortcuts
Site selection has evolved considerably over the last few decades. As companies have become more efficient in their processes, the timelines for selecting new sites have become shorter. The shortened duration of time to vet sites under consideration can lead site selectors and company decision-makers toward a path of least resistance, creating an environment where important site attributes are missed prior to selecting the final site for development. This mistake can lead to costly development delays and missed opportunities. As many as 75 different site and community attributes may be needed to provide an in-depth analysis of a company's ability to function at optimum efficiency. Identifying the risk-to-development factors is not only wise, but also assists the site selector and company in playing the selection game intelligently.

Additionally, thorough site diligence provides site selectors and companies with the ability to save critical resources by limiting the amount of land purchased to the amount of land needed; the means to determine how their sites will serve their facilities and if the sites are zoned properly to protect them from adjacent users; as well as the ability to negotiate incentives that provide the most impact. Foregoing assumptions on site preparedness and practicing thorough site diligence is crucial to successful development.

Courtney Dunbar has 17+ years of combined career experiences in economic development and project funding. In her current role as economic development leader, she is actively engaged in industrial site planning, community planning, economic analysis, and identification of project funding options.