For some companies, securing the right incentive package is often the most important factor in the decision to build, expand, or relocate, but it’s not the only one. Knowing where and how to look for the right site for your company can be a complex process.
It makes sense to get the assistance of an experienced economic development partner who is familiar with the site selection and incentive procurement process to help you to find the perfect landing spot for your project and secure the right incentive package to make it happen. There are several factors to consider before committing to a new site.
Infrastructure. One of the first things to consider is infrastructure. If you have specific needs, consider whether your site already has these elements. Not all communities can offer fiber or public water and sewer. Moreover, some development sites don’t have utilities in place at all.
If you are looking to relocate a manufacturing facility, a critical factor may be the necessary electric, sewer, gas and water capacity to support operations. If a site doesn’t have the right infrastructure, make sure these improvements can be made relatively easily and affordably. Furthermore, if a site is unable to meet your ultimate infrastructural needs, it’s time to move on.
Environmental conditions. Every company wants to be delivered a clean site and avoid potential problems like contaminated soils and environmental hazards. Environmental site assessments are a critical — and sometimes required — part of the due diligence process in the acquisition, financing and development of a property. Performing these tests ensures that all dangers are identified and managed in advance of site work and breaking ground.
Although a Phase I and Phase II are usually sufficient, a site may undergo three or more separate assessments, depending on the circumstances. These tests are often costly but are worth the expense, as they will determine the environmental condition of the property, as well as the next steps for addressing any issues found. Oftentimes, if a site is controlled by the local government, these tests may have already been performed, or there might be financial assistance to help offset the cost.
Local laws. What is the zoning of the area? If it doesn’t fit your intended use, is it possible to get a rezoning? What are the surrounding uses and plans for those areas, and do they help or hurt you? Are there any incentive overlay districts, and what are those guidelines? Are there design guidelines in place? Can you grow there?
Contractors and property owners must know the arrangements of the local government. They also must secure permits, endorsements and approval letters through the city, as well as the municipal council or county commissions. For a smoother process, the legal aspects of the building site location should be part of the business plan, and you should meet with the local government as soon as possible to begin discussions.
These are just a few of the factors to consider as you embark on your next construction or development project. The right consultant understands the incentives and site selection processes and has relationships with state and municipal agencies and officials whose jobs are to support economic development. They also know how to coordinate with other economic development entities and understand what local governments are looking for and what they have to offer, working as an extension of their economic development staffs. Securing the right site and incentives package can be complex, but you don’t have to go at it alone. ●
Jennifer Syx is President of inSITE Advisory Group