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By Site Selection Magazine

Each year, Site Selection surveys consultants to better understand the perceptions that guide their advice to clients. As in the past, this year’s respondents to the seven-question survey represent a broad spectrum of organizations and disciplines ranging from commercial real estate transaction support to incentives consulting. Responding consultants also differed widely in terms of industry specialization, geographic focus and other characteristics.

In your opinion, what are the top two or three elements of “state business climate”?
∗Top 5 results included based on tallied votes.

The first survey question asked: “For a typical site selection project, with what level of contact person do you usually work the most throughout the project?” Consistent with last year, approximately 38 percent responded that they begin at the regional level, 30 percent begin at the state level, 19 percent begin at the local level, and 13 percent begin at the county level. Additional written comments reveal a clear theme: With whom initial contact is made is a deliberate decision that is largely influenced by whether the consultant has personal relationships with economic developers in the region, and the trust and confidence that they have in those contacts. Despite the emphasis on data and information in the site selection process, relationships are crucial.

The second question asked: “How important is a state’s business climate when it is first being evaluated as a potential location for a project?” Again, consistent with last year, over 95 percent indicated that it was “very important” or “somewhat important.” Only a scant few indicated that it was “somewhat unimportant” or “not very important.”

While the importance of business climate is certainly no surprise, opinions about what constitutes a good business climate, which the third survey question sought to discern, were more interesting. When asked to respond in their own words to the question “What are the top two or three elements of a state business climate?” consultants identified and ranked key location-dependent factors according to the rankings in the chart to the right.

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