While many communities have assets that are attractive to those who currently live, play and conduct business there, do these communities have what it takes to attract new residents and businesses? Major corporations and others may invest millions of dollars in a community and don’t take the decision lightly.
According to economic and community development consultant, Carol Johnson, most communities all say the same things. She says what site consultants and prospects fear most when they visit a potential site is the local team will talk too much and waste their time!
According to Johnson, to be prepared “The local team needs to understand that every facet of your site is quantitatively ranked and each industry, each project will rank you differently.” In other words, the local team needs to convey the unique things they have to offer each individual prospect and be able to prove it. Corporations are obsessed with “risk avoidance” which means the local team must remove any mystery or perceptions of risk.
Successful communities have created a team that includes the local experts in the areas of: utilities (e.g., gas, electric, water and waste water), industry, infrastructure, workforce, taxation and incentives. It is key that the local team can convey credibility and expertise when responding to prospect needs. It is especially critical that the local team can stand behind their commitments to meet project timelines and ensure project confidentiality.
So where might a community begin? Start first with an understanding of community assets. Second, be able to document these assets – how do the assets meet requirements of the prospect? Third, understand the key drivers of the prospect’s decision. KNOW THEM, UNDERSTAND THEM and CONFIRM THEM several times; prospects often change their minds. Last, understand that prospects make final decisions based on return on investment and their ability to minimize or overcome risk – perceived and real.
(Submitted by: Cynthia Leis, Extension Educator and Van Wert City Economic Development Director)