Site Consultant Kate McEnroe Shares Expert Tips for Corporate Site Selection

February 22, 2017 by Midlothian Economic Development

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Corporate site selection is a complex undertaking – even for those well acquainted with the task.

From the initial decision to expand or relocate to the proverbial ribbon-cutting ceremony, there are countless decisions for a company to make – and no two projects are ever alike. There are real estate searches, market analyses, labor studies, construction costs and quality of life considerations – not to mention securing connections with the appropriate local, regional and state officials.

Even in the most ideal conditions, corporate site selection requires a diligent approach dependent upon not only location criteria but also fiscal evaluation, strategic negotiations, and above all, uncompromising client confidentiality.

Renowned industry expert Kate McEnroe is no stranger to the pitfalls of site selection. As owner of Chicago-based Kate McEnroe Consulting, she has extensive experience helping companies navigate the sometimes-choppy waters of the site-selection process.

Understand the Tradeoffs

When it comes to advising companies on how best to move forward with corporate site selection, McEnroe said there are a few things that are key to an efficient and successful process. First and foremost, it’s important for companies to have a firm grasp of what is important and what tradeoffs they are willing to make right from the start.

“People often start off with a wishlist that is too long and that is not grounded necessarily in what is available on this planet,” McEnroe said. “You have to think through your biggest pain points; not what utopia looks like. That is something that is not on the planet.”

McEnroe often tells companies to consider what is most important to their project, why it’s most important, and what is causing difficulty in their current situation. Then, examine how that situation can be improved upon. 

Be Realistic About Timelines

Additionally, McEnroe advises being realistic about the project timeframe.

“What often happens is that a company will start out saying, ‘We need a decision by X date and we need to be up and running by Y date,’” McEnroe said. “But then, at the back end, they may not be moving that quickly, after all, so they eliminated options they didn’t necessarily have to eliminate because they weren’t realistic about their timeframe.”

McEnroe said these are the types of things she tries to hammer out with clients during the initial stages of corporate site selection.

“You will be more efficient if you take a little time up front and put some structure around it,” McEnroe said. “It’s much more beneficial to move in a directed path.”

Otherwise, it’s easy to get sidelined by “shiny” distractions – other buildings and different communities.

Bring an Expert On Board

While many companies do conduct their own corporate site selection, bringing in an outside expert can afford some valuable benefits. Companies traditionally turn to site consultants for a few reasons. Perhaps the company has no one in-house who has previously gone through corporate site selection. In other situations, third-party objectivity is warranted. Some companies might recruit a site consultant when a short list of sites was already determined.

In the end, all the databases, online tools, and software products in the world do not necessarily translate into the most profitable business solution. Sometimes it’s that personal perspective beyond just the numbers that leads to the best – and not always the most obvious – answer. And that can make all the difference in the long run.

For more information visit katemcenroe.com.

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