Business Recruitment Part 1 – The Hunt

Today’s editorial will be part one of a two part discussion on the fourth pillar of BDI’s current Action Plan – business recruitment. Business recruitment, sometimes referred to as “the hunt”, is by far the most recognized role that an economic development organization plays in a community.

Think about the headline on the front page of the paper. “Burke County Welcomes New Company and 300 Jobs”. The picture usually features local elected officials and representatives from Raleigh holding a shovel or cutting a ribbon.

While this is only one piece of what we do in economic development it is a very important piece because it brings new jobs and new investment into the County. However, few people understand how we arrive at the ribbon cutting moment. I’d like to explain how we get to that point. Often you have to go back two or three years to see where the project started.

Recruitment is a difficult and lengthy process. It is further complicated by the fact that much of the work that happens has to be confidential. If a business is looking at Burke County we give it a project name – this can create confusion and mistrust in a community sometimes because citizens think we are being secretive.

We give project names for a few reasons. Sometimes the company is relocating and hasn’t told their current workforce they’ll be closing that facility. We also want to prevent other states or counties from learning about a potential prospect. Many good projects have been lost in a community because another state caught wind of the deal and offered better incentives.

Projects and project leads are brought to BDI in many ways. The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina is the main engine for driving projects into our state. They have a team of Business Recruiters who work with companies from all across the country and the world who have an interest in locating in North Carolina.

We also have strong partnerships with companies like Duke Energy, Electricities and others that have their own recruitment teams and actively work projects throughout the state. Often projects come directly from Site Consultants. These individuals work throughout the world, are highly sought after and can be very valuable to have relationships with.

There are usually three phases to a project. The first is the elimination phase. These entities send RFIs (Requests for Information) out to economic development agencies that detail what the company is looking for. They start out by trying to eliminate you.

They narrow down whether they are looking for an existing building, a site or would consider both. From there the criteria are endless. They might want to be less than five minutes from a major interstate or 25 minutes from a major airport. The building might need 30 foot ceilings or 16 inch concrete floors.

Often, companies are evaluating hundreds of criteria but each project has hot button topics. You try to figure these out early on and play up your community’s strengths while playing down any weaknesses.

Once we have reviewed all criteria and determined that we have a fit we can submit a Burke County building or site. In a typical RFI we might also have to submit information about the community, the quality of life, the workforce, tax rates, available infrastructure, incentives and schools. The EDP of NC, or whoever is leading the project, will narrow the list down and present it to the companies.

This leads to phase 2, during which the companies make a short list of buildings or sites they are interested in. Typically during this phase a company is looking at anywhere from 3-6 communities. Sometimes this will lead to a visit from the company or the consultant.

This is when the community can help play a role in economic development. Sometimes when companies visit they want to meet with our office but they also ask to meet with other organizations. For example, local governments, the community college, the school system or other existing manufacturing companies.

All citizens can play a role during this phase as well. It is very common for site consultants to visit a community without even telling the economic development office. They will eat at a local restaurant or visit local stores to ask citizens firsthand about the community.

In next month’s editorial we will explain phase 3, which occurs once a company expresses interest in your community and you’re given an opportunity to close the deal. We will also share the detailed actions that BDI takes to facilitate the recruitment process because – although it is a difficult one – there are many ways a community can increase their chances for success.

From the Burke County Chamber of Commerce

Connect NC Bond: Invest in Our Future

Editor’s Note: This is the first in an ongoing series of Chamber newsletter articles leading up to a vote on the NC Bond Referendum next March. If approved by voters, the $1.2 billion statewide bond package would designate more than $91 million for projects in Burke County.

The last time NC voters voted on and approved a statewide general obligation bond to upgrade our state’s infrastructure was 15 years ago. Since then, the Tarheel State has grown by about two million people. On March 15, 2016, voters will have an opportunity to approve a $1.2 billion bond package. Proceeds from the sale of the bonds will connect North Carolina to the 21st century through statewide investments in education, parks, safety, recreation, and water and sewer infrastructure.

Burke County stands to receive more than $91 million if voters statewide approve the bond sales:

— $58 million for the Western NC School of Science and Math in Morganton

— $23.3 million for a National Guard Training Facility in Burke County

— $5.1 million for Western Piedmont Community College for new construction, renovation and repairs

— $3 million for renovations at Lake James State Park

— $2.25 million for improvements at South Mountain State Park

The Connect NC bond will let us pay for 50-year assets with 20-year financing. No tax increases will be needed to finance the bonds, given the state’s strong revenue growth and ample debt service capacity. NC will continue to balance the budget and uphold its position as one of only 10 states to have earned the coveted AAA bond rating from all three major ratings agencies.

Economic Development in Burke: Workforce Development

This is the third editorial in which I have explained the components of BDI’s current Action plan, which can be viewed at www.burkedevinc.com/actionplan. Today we’ll focus on workforce development, which has become increasingly relevant to economic development professionals in recent years.

Workforce development was often seen as a function of other community organizations; however, due to various factors – including the increasing skills gap and a need from existing employers – many county ED offices are getting more involved in the workforce conversation.

As we discussed in October’s editorial, maintaining your existing industry base is critical to a rural county like ours. We hear at an alarming rate from our local companies that they need a better, more skilled workforce. As a community we need to ensure the next generation of workers is skilled and ready for job opportunities.

In the next few years there will be dramatic shifts in the workforce. This year millennials (born in the early 1980s to the early 2000s) become the largest generation in the American workforce.  Furthermore, what is becoming known as “Generation Z”, born from the mid 2000s to present day, will be entering the workforce soon.

Careers of these young people will look drastically different than those of the Baby Boomers or Generation X. It is cited often than millennials will work 15-20 different jobs in their lifetime and average workers currently stay at a job for only 4.4 years. Rapid change brought on by technology will require them to be lifelong learners. Education – for jobs of all kinds – will become increasingly important. In fact, by 2018, nearly two-thirds of the nation’s jobs will require some postsecondary education or training.

It is for this reason that BDI has partnered with Western Piedmont Community College, Burke County Public Schools and others to launch a Task Force aimed at creating a community focused PR campaign designed to develop a strong and healthy future workforce in Burke County.

The group will establish a five year plan that relies on data-driven strategies and is shaped by measurable goals. It will require a unified approach that includes local government, companies, workforce development entities, students and parents.

At the first task force meeting held in November the group discussed overall strategy and outlined three specific challenges:

  1. Engage the BCPS graduates who plan to stay in Burke County after high school by developing clear pathways that help them attain their goals
  2. Educate partners about what programs are already in place, which ones are working well and what needs to be done to expand successful programs
  3. Catalogue existing and future careers in Burke County to inform young people about the opportunities available and how to obtain the necessary education for those jobs and find the proper channels to share this information

The planning group will meet again in January to clarify next steps. This will be followed by an implementation phase during which a working group will outline specific goals and activities, as well as develop a budget.

This is not a situation that will be resolved overnight but it is the right time to pursue a comprehensive approach to addressing the challenge. The right leaders are in place to ensure the plan’s success and it will take many more people coming to the table to work together to develop creative solutions.

The goal is clear. We need to support the next generation of skilled employees who have the ability to adapt to new technologies and have a willingness to never stop learning. We must persevere in this goal because the future of our local businesses, our young people and our county depend on it.

Economic Development in Burke: Supporting Small Business

Today’s editorial provides more information about the 2015-2016 Burke Development Action Plan in a continued effort to inform the community about how we carry out economic development work at BDI.

In this piece we focus on what BDI does to support small business, entrepreneurship and industry clusters. Organizations define small business in different ways. Many people think of small business as their local coffee shop, accounting firm or retail store. The U.S. government defines a small business as any company that employs 500 people or less, so it is no surprise that they consider 99.7% of all firms to be “small business”.

Since the recession there has been a greater emphasis on small business and recognition of the important role they play in the economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics from mid-2009 to 2011 small firms accounted for 67% of net new jobs.

How do we, as a community, support these entrepreneurs and business owners? In a 2015 Harris poll of 505 small business owners, 76% said they face marketing challenges. Additionally, 41% said their challenges included identifying and reaching new customer prospects while 32% said finding money to market their business was a challenge.

This is where organizations like BEBO (Burke Entrepreneurs and Business Owners) can play a critical role in a community. BEBO is a networking group comprised of all the organizations and entities that provide small business support in Burke County. This includes the Small Business Center, the Burke County Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Technology Development Center, the Agricultural Extension office and VEDIC – a local revolving loan fund – among others. Helping find solutions to these three challenges is imperative if we are to have a vibrant entrepreneurial community.

BEBO hosts quarterly networking sessions that provide opportunities for local entrepreneurs to meet with each other and share what they do. The next event is slated for Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 5:30pm at the Foothills Higher Education Center. Learn more about these events at www.facebook.com/bebonetwork.

The BEBO leadership team also serves as a working group that supports high-growth potential businesses. These scalable companies have an opportunity to present to the leadership team for connections to resources and capital.

As part of BDI’s sector focused work we assist in the growth of the Carolina Textile District, an organization that meets demand for US textile production. The CTD has been recognized by the International Economic Development Council as a successful multi-year economic development project.

In this same vein we are looking at ways to support and lift up other industry clusters – such as the machining and metalworking cluster. Burke County has an extremely high concentration of machining companies, which is a huge advantage for a rural community like ours. Two weeks ago BDI attended the SOUTH-TEC machining trade show in Charlotte to meet with industry representatives and learn more about this growing sector.

Another role of BDI in supporting small business is to ensure the appropriate availability of small to mid-size buildings and sites for these companies. To do this we develop partnerships with local and regional developers to create sites for growth and also verify the pipeline is complete for available local sites. We have seen an increase in requests for buildings in the 10-20,000 sq. ft. range so it is important that we seek out these smaller industrial properties and ensure they are ready for occupancy.

Ultimately, there is no magic bullet for how to support small business; however, by forming a network of providers that can collaborate to meet the needs of entrepreneurs and small business owners, and by maintaining our focus on the industry clusters where we have strong support, we are ensuring the infrastructure is in place to have a thriving small business community.

Economic Development in Burke: Supporting Small Business

Today’s editorial provides more information about the 2015-2016 Burke Development Action Plan in a continued effort to inform the community about how we carry out economic development work at BDI.

In this piece we focus on what BDI does to support small business, entrepreneurship and industry clusters. Organizations define small business in different ways. Many people think of small business as their local coffee shop, accounting firm or retail store. The U.S. government defines a small business as any company that employs 500 people or less, so it is no surprise that they consider 99.7% of all firms to be “small business”.

Since the recession there has been a greater emphasis on small business and recognition of the important role they play in the economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics from mid-2009 to 2011 small firms accounted for 67% of net new jobs.

How do we, as a community, support these entrepreneurs and business owners? In a 2015 Harris poll of 505 small business owners, 76% said they face marketing challenges. Additionally, 41% said their challenges included identifying and reaching new customer prospects while 32% said finding money to market their business was a challenge.

This is where organizations like BEBO (Burke Entrepreneurs and Business Owners) can play a critical role in a community. BEBO is a networking group comprised of all the organizations and entities that provide small business support in Burke County. This includes the Small Business Center, the Burke County Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Technology Development Center, the Agricultural Extension office and VEDIC – a local revolving loan fund – among others. Helping find solutions to these three challenges is imperative if we are to have a vibrant entrepreneurial community.

BEBO hosts quarterly networking sessions that provide opportunities for local entrepreneurs to meet with each other and share what they do. The next event is slated for Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 5:30pm at the Foothills Higher Education Center. Learn more about these events at www.facebook.com/bebonetwork.

The BEBO leadership team also serves as a working group that supports high-growth potential businesses. These scalable companies have an opportunity to present to the leadership team for connections to resources and capital.

As part of BDI’s sector focused work we assist in the growth of the Carolina Textile District, an organization that meets demand for US textile production. The CTD has been recognized by the International Economic Development Council as a successful multi-year economic development project.

In this same vein we are looking at ways to support and lift up other industry clusters – such as the machining and metalworking cluster. Burke County has an extremely high concentration of machining companies, which is a huge advantage for a rural community like ours. Two weeks ago BDI attended the SOUTH-TEC machining trade show in Charlotte to meet with industry representatives and learn more about this growing sector.

Another role of BDI in supporting small business is to ensure the appropriate availability of small to mid-size buildings and sites for these companies. To do this we develop partnerships with local and regional developers to create sites for growth and also verify the pipeline is complete for available local sites. We have seen an increase in requests for buildings in the 10-20,000 sq. ft. range so it is important that we seek out these smaller industrial properties and ensure they are ready for occupancy.

Ultimately, there is no magic bullet for how to support small business; however, by forming a network of providers that can collaborate to meet the needs of entrepreneurs and small business owners, and by maintaining our focus on the industry clusters where we have strong support, we are ensuring the infrastructure is in place to have a thriving small business community.

For Immediate Release

BDI News from the NCEDA Fall Conference

BURKE COUNTY, N.C. (October 22, 2015) – Burke Development staff this week participated in the 2015 North Carolina Economic Development Association Fall Conference in Asheville. Attended by professionals from across the state, the conference featured various presentations and updates from statewide and regional economic development organizations.

Wednesday morning’s session began with a legislative update. North Carolina’s JDIG (Job Development Investment Grant) incentive was recently re-funded by the legislature for $20 million through 2019. The JDIG is a key tool for developers across the state as the primary incentive fund used to compete for recruitment of projects and industry. Information and advice was also shared for how to better foster grassroots participation from your community and elected officials to support economic development legislation.

Susan Fleetwood, Chief Economic Development Liaison for the NC Department of Commerce, presented an update on the NC Jobs Plan, which was developed over a six-month period and outlines 86 action items related to growing the NC economy. These include initiatives to support innovation and entrepreneurship, including the refunding of the NC One Small Business Program, attraction of foreign direct investment, creating a competitive business climate, talent and retiree attraction, and education and workforce development.

A panel of members from the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) International Team shared information on what is being done to attract foreign direct investment to the state. These Investment Directors represent NC in target markets across the globe including China, Japan, Europe, Canada and Korea. They discussed impressions that companies in these countries have about North Carolina, as well as which countries are emerging markets for U.S. foreign direct investment.

The conference concluded with updates from NC’s regional economic development partnerships. Discussion centered on how the partnerships have changed since the legislature’s decision to de-fund the organizations and transfer to a public/private partnership. While Burke County is currently not represented by a regional partnership, Burke Development is exploring alternatives to ensure the County is represented in a regional or sub-regional group.

 

About Burke Development, Inc.

Burke Development, Inc. (BDI) is a nonprofit organization supported by private and public funding that is charged with accelerating economic growth in Burke County. BDI works with industry leaders, site selection consultants, government agencies and other entities to facilitate expansion strategies for existing businesses and recruit target industries to Burke County. For more information about BDI visit www.BurkeDevInc.com.

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Contact:

Alan Wood

828.764.1818

For Immediate Release

 Burke Development Releases Video Featuring Local Industry

BURKE COUNTY, N.C. (October 20, 2015) – Burke Development released a video that highlights the local business climate and explains why Burke County is a great place to do business. “Welcome to Burke County” features beautiful scenes from throughout the County, downtown areas and several local manufacturing companies.

BDI will use the new video in presentations, as well as during project submissions with the Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

“The importance of visual media is continuously growing,” said BDI President and CEO Alan Wood. “The ability to demonstrate to a prospect exactly what the area looks like is powerful. I think it helps them envision what it could be like for their company to operate here in North Carolina.”

The video is also an opportunity to highlight some of the County’s growing local companies. It includes footage from Catawba Valley Brewery, Valdese Weavers, Geiger Furniture, Toner Machining – and the County’s largest employer – Carolinas Healthcare System Blue Ridge.

“We have such a diverse employment base here in Burke County so it was good to show everything from retail to healthcare to manufacturing,” said Wood. “Burke County is truly a beautiful area so there wasn’t a shortage of amazing filming locations. It is a place that is easy to show off!”

About Burke Development, Inc.

Burke Development, Inc. (BDI) is a nonprofit organization supported by private and public funding that is charged with accelerating economic growth in Burke County. BDI works with industry leaders, site selection consultants, government agencies and other entities to facilitate expansion strategies for existing businesses and recruit target industries to Burke County. For more information about BDI visit www.BurkeDevInc.com.

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Contact:

Alan Wood

828.764.1818