Atlas’s latest webinar (“The Anatomy of Competition: Competing Communities Discuss the Same Deal”) provided a unique forum for the New Belgium Brewing (NBB) expansion deal: put together a panel that not only lets you hear from the headquarters city (Fort Collins, Colorado) and the selected city (Asheville, North Carolina), but also a city that vied for the win, but just happened to fall short this time (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). Anchoring the panel was Jones Lang LaSalle who worked with NBB on the expansion process.
After the webinar, Kris Bjornson, Managing Director of Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, Inc. provided his answers to your top 10 questions. Take a look:
1. It sounds as if JLL/NBB contacted the local communities directly first, rather than working through the state or regional economic development organizations. Was that true, and if so, curious as to why that approach was taken?
At JLL, we defer to our local professionals on what is most effective for their location given the scope and objectives of the project. Unfortunately, it varies project by project and location by location on what makes sense for a given client.
2. How important do you think it is for ED organizations to have one on one visits with consultants?
Like any relationship built on “like and trust”, it takes times to cultivate so any one on one time spent with consultants at conferences, office visits, site visits or phone calls helps.
3. What do you suggest for a small community, under 25,000 in population that is getting into the business attraction game? Key steps?
Define your competitive advantage and be prepared to state your strategies to overcoming any weaknesses or threats. Population size is not always a high level screen criteria or eliminator.
4. How can a community break through and be noticed from a more positive perspective when its history and region may not support this new image?
Leverage positive testimonials from existing employers – written, video, reference – in some form of a “Did You Know?” marketing campaign.
5. Is there a standard form that we practitioners use that will help us answer most all of the questions that site selectors would ask? An industry standard form of sorts…
Not really, simply be prepared to understand your “Drive Time Demographics and Operating Costs” to be prepared to state your strengths and address your weaknesses or discrepencies between data and reality.
6. Where there any differences in talent/labor between the communities New Belgium looked at and did that play a role in the decision?
Yes, there were differences in type of skill, education, cost and depth; however, NBB was equally focused on a communities with environmentally and socially responsible workforce interested in walking or biking to work.
7. Did you consider any geographic locations (Regarding the New Belgium Deal) within the Central time zone?
No, we stretched the envelope with Chattanooga to the western end of the EDT despite the future demand being projected closer to the east coast.
8. What percentage of the time (when you do a site search) do you already know what the outcome is going to be?
Typically, we reach a 50 percent feel after all of the initial community and site visits have occured; meaning it is a primary and back-up location against the rest of the field. Each following trip, the percentage continues to go up.
9. What is your favorite source of information when finding out more about a community?
Your website, our local professional’s opinion or insight from another local employer.
10. What is the single most important thing that a community has ever done to influence a company decision?
In my opinion, there is no “single most important” thing, but the winners tend to have a knack for “thinking, feeling and acting” like the prospective company. It requires tremendous research and consultative community professionals working towards a mutually beneficial solution for the prospective company.