IEDC: Can your real estate win over the most selective site selectors?

Can your real estate win over the most selective site selectors? In Ashtabula County’s case, the answer is NO! We need competitive real estate product moving forward. 

Here is what IEDC has to say about competitive real estate for economic development.

You probably already know that workforce availability, cost competitiveness, and accessibility are critical determinants in the site selection process. But many places can claim all three of these assets. So what are the finer details that help a company whittle down to its final location? Consultancies Camoin Associates and the Timmons Group have noted several emerging trends determining companies’ ultimate location decisions:

  • Time to market is increasingly critical; sites must be shovel-ready (or close to it) to even be considered.
  • Available land is becoming less important, with a shift toward spec buildings.  According to some site selectors, 60-75 percent of their clients are looking for a building first and a site second.
  • Publicly controlled sites take precedent over privately controlled sites.
  • More businesses are moving toward “asset light” models and are less willing to take on a development project themselves.
  • Quality of place is an important driver to attract top talent, and the location of development sites can support this. Connectivity to the overall community and its quality-of-life assets such as an urban core, parks, trails, cultural amenities, transportation hubs, etc., are increasingly important.
  • Water is making a comeback as a top factor for many businesses, but geography dictates why. In the west, the concern is typically about access, whereas in the east it’s more about quality.

Another trend they’ve noticed is that of EDOs marketing sites that aren’t truly ready for development. Camoin and Timmons break down the odds of a successful sale based on several readiness stages:

1. Raw land and a willing seller (<10 percent)

2. The site is controlled by the municipality and zoned as part of a comprehensive plan, but minimal due diligence has been conducted.  (<20 percent)

3. The site is part of a master plan, costs of development have been estimated, and significant due diligence has been done. (40-50 percent)

4. The site is certifiable (meaning it can meet rigorous standards certifying it is ready for development), infrastructure has been added, and all property issues have been cleared. (70-80 percent)

5. The site is ready for construction, and all permits are in hand. (90 percent)

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