What Do Site Selectors Really Need from Regional Economic Developers?

March 27th, 2019

Top 3 Takeaways from Site Consultant Training

Recently, the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership hosted four nationally recognized consultants in Northeast Indiana for a day of information sharing and economic development training.

The training was hosted by the Site Consultant Advisory (SCA) Group, a division of Area Development Magazine, the publisher of a national site consultant magazine and host of several site consultant conferences every year. The SCA Group consults with economic development groups, regional stakeholders, business leaders and elected officials to review and provide feedback on current processes. The day-long training was designed to be interactive and provide specific feedback on how to compete for and win economic development projects.

With more than 30 attendees, the day was filled with important lessons and actionable strategies.

Here are three key lessons that will drive our business and economic development work in the future.

1. Data Matters

For communities to compete for and win economic development projects, communities must be armed with data on their sites, buildings, workforce, wages and more. The Regional Partnership and the LEDOs work hand-in-hand to provide the most up-to-date and accurate data for companies and consultants. We are in the best position to win, if we have the data to support our story. To learn more about our data resources, visit our Site Selection Data page to see a site map of the region’s data.

2. No Community Is Perfect

Site consultants know that every community has shortcomings. No community is perfect, so trying to position your city or region as a flawless utopia will immediately come across as inauthentic. Cities should offer a look at their strengths first and feature any unique attributes or programs offered. Then comes the critically-important part— honestly discuss challenges and how leaders are addressing those issues. Delivery is important, but a slick, well-designed marketing piece will only be effective if the message is compelling, unique and authentic!

3. Collaboration and Regionalism Are Key

For site consultants mitigating risk, fully aligned economic development initiatives are very attractive. When communities develop a comprehensive approach with business attraction and retention, they offer efficiencies that can head off future issues. From collaborating with education leaders to local elected officials, working together seamlessly attracts site consultants, even if the ideal building or site is not located within the region.

Although essential, available sites and buildings are not the only way Northeast Indiana competes for economic development projects. Providing data, authentic case studies and a collaborative approach to economic development are attractive to site consultants and companies alike.

The Site Consultant Advisory Group training reemphasized the importance of regionalism in today’s ever-changing economy.

To learn more about Northeast Indiana’s business development efforts, please contact Vice President of Business Development Chad Ruston.

- By Hannah Stork, Sarah Rodriguez, Kate Virag and Chad Ruston