Progressive Thinking When Choosing A Site

February 07, 2017 by Midlothian Economic Development

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When it comes to choosing the ideal site for your business relocation, site selectors fall back on the same things: local community, labor availability and local business climate. These tried and true factors are selector’s top choices for a reason. But with the mass migration of business from more populated East and West coast urban areas to locations along the South and Midwest, companies are often competing for space that suits their needs.  


With this in mind, it’s important to take other factors into consideration to ensure that your site is not only valuable to you in the initial stages of your move, but also a strong investment for your company in the coming years. By doing so, you may make different site selection choices that will bring better long term returns.


Rethinking Location

In this instance, when talking about location we don’t mean city or state, we mean the literal plot of land you intend to build on, and its space within the city of choice. Typically, a site selector would look at the obvious—size in comparison to needs, zoning, transportation access and even safety. But as you think about your business growth and development, it is important to think of these things beyond the now.  


Are there new highway expansion or infrastructure plans that will affect traffic flow, or even change the concentration of nearby businesses to a different major roadway? Is there enough space to support any planned or desired business growth? Do the local utilities support this growth as well, or will your needs outgrow what’s available at the space? What other businesses are nearby? Are they likely to aid in maintaining the neighborhood’s security in reputation, or are a lot of them on the way out, possibly leading to a degradation of the quality of the area?


These factors obviously have short-term impact, but when choosing between two spaces, thinking of these in long-term may give one greater long-term appeal.


Culture and Climate

When discussing the impacts of culture and climate, we don’t mean weather or the things to do around town. Rather, what kind of business, economic and even political climate exists in the location—and do any of these impact the culture of the area? Locations that attract a specific sort of business likely do so for a reason.


Are there specific zones or incentives for your business type in particular? What sort of competitors are in the area? Is the market flooded or is there room for competition? What sort of tax and economic policy exists in the area? Has it changed a lot in the past few years or does it change frequently? What’s the local political atmosphere like? Will it affect the quality of life of your workforce? What about your business practices? Does the location pride itself on small-town charm? How about a hipster vibe?


While factors like economic and political climate can be ever-changing, understanding the community’s past and current climate can give good insight into where these climates might sit in the future and how they might affect your business. For example, if your business is heavily incentivized by an area, chances are the city is interested in growing your industry. This may mean better tax breaks and sites, however, you may also want to be cautious as to not end up in an oversaturated market in years to come. Or, if an area is really promoting and funding education / incentives, it may be a good resource for your specialized workforce. And, helping the community invest in these programs could be a good way to cultivate a workpool specific to your needs.


Area legislation can also be important to both business and community. While choosing a site for any business-friendly legislation or practices is beneficial in the short term, it’s also good to be informed of any social or economic legislation that could significantly impact your workforce, as a decline in quality of life (or perceived quality of life) over time could create great flux in your workforce.


A Proactive Approach

In being mindful of issues surrounding your site selection, you can create greater business impact not only in the short term, but in the long term as well. Businesses using traditional site selection often perceive certain benefits of a location, but may ultimately suffer consequences if they failed to think ahead on their area. For example, tech startups in areas like Silicon Valley are facing struggles with workforce and even business costs, due to the location they chose to house their business and the affordable housing shortages. When you plan and consider all factors, you can prepare and secure for your business growth and scaling for years to come.