Magazine article Management Review

Using an Economic Developer

Magazine article Management Review

Using an Economic Developer

Article excerpt

Whether you move or stay put, two steps will help you achieve your goals if you choose to work with a development group. By focusing on these two issues, you'll develop a better relationship with your agency--and you'll be well informed enough to make the right choice for your company's future.

1 Define your needs. Make sure that your target city meets them. Sounds simple, but many companies fail to adequately examine, and then communicate, just what their needs are. You need to think of everything, from the cost of land and labor to the community's political climate. "The more specific your questions are, the more thorough the answers can be," says Richard Knowlton, president of the Savannah Economic Development Authority in Georgia.

Once you've defined your criteria, you need to be sure that the community you've chosen (or are already located in) is your absolute best match. One trick of the trade: study where other businesses in your industry are moving. If a large percentage of business in your field have sprung up in a particular city, it's probably because of strengths in that city's infrastructure and workforce.

For example, the telecommunications industry is thriving in Omaha, and for several good reasons: Omaha has been the home of the Strategic Air Command since the 1940s, so a good telecommunications infrastructure has long been in place. In addition, Omaha sits right in the center of the nation, so operators are able to work longer hours and take advantage of the time differences. And, the city boasts the United States' cheapest WATS rates.

A company can hit pay dirt by researching where competitors are located. But you also can find cities that specialize in your industry by studying the ads in trade magazines. "We identify industries that we feel Savannah can accommodate and then advertise in publications that are read by those industries' executives," says Knowlton. …

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