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Business Recruitment – The Close

Business Recruitment Part 2 – The Close

Last month we discussed the recruitment process – “The Hunt” – and how it happens. Much of that process is out of our control. For example, if a company is looking for a community within 20 minutes of a major, international airport there isn’t much we can do. Therefore, it is important for us to focus on the factors we can control. We have to make sure that we are as prepared as possible to be successful in the hunt. We shared last month the first two phases of a project. During phase 1 a company or consultant eliminates communities. During the second phase they arrive at a short list of communities they are interested in and conduct visits. Today we’ll talk about the third phase: The Close. Once a company expresses interest in coming to your community you’re given the opportunity to close the deal. This phase is often deeply impacted by what is happening with economic development at the state level. Developers talk about our “tool box”. Some of our most powerful tools are incentives offered by the state. They come in different forms but are usually tax incentives or infrastructure improvements. The most commonly used in North Carolina are the One North Carolina Fund and the Job Development Investment Grant, which award grants to businesses based on job creation and investment commitment. Local governments – the County and city/towns – can also provide incentives to a company. Sometimes a community provides land as an incentive. These are offered on a discretionary basis and are also evaluated based on the number of jobs to be created and the investment being made by the company. It is important that the incentives be tied to performance of specific actions by the company and that the deal is beneficial to both parties. Sometimes other factors come into play and are considered as well – will the company be occupying an existing building that needs to be upgraded? Can we assist them with the up-fit? Does the company represent a new or emerging sector for the community? Does the company’s workforce requirements fit well with our existing workforce? Communities, especially with strong relationships in place, can get creative to put together an attractive package for a company. In addition to traditional incentives they can leverage partnerships to close a deal. For example, they might work with the local community college to provide a company specific training program to match to specific job skills. During this stage the ball is really in play and a local economic development agency has an opportunity to utilize all of its resources to attract the company. However, it is important to note that often communities never reach this point. For some context, there are over 10,000 economic development agencies in the United States and, depending on the year, there are usually only 500-700 major economic development relocation projects in a year. So what can a community do to increase its odds and chances for success? As detailed in our current Action Plan, which can be viewed at www.burkedevine.com/actionplan, BDI has regular contact with recruiters in the state and site consultants from across the country. We attend site consultant events where we form relationships with these individuals and share what our county has to offer. We also maintain relationships with key partners, such as Duke Energy and Electricities, to make sure they know what sites and buildings we have available. BDI utilizes marketing materials to highlight key sites and assets in the community. A good example of this is the recent video we produced called “Welcome to Burke County,” which can be found on our YouTube page. Another example is the aerial video footage package we have created with a drone of the Burke Business Park. We include this footage when submitting RFIs to give the company a real life view of the site. We promote existing buildings and sites by using targeted mailings, e-blasts, social media and other avenues. The other thing BDI does to increase our potential for success for recruitment is to constantly be working on infrastructure and site development. We work to ensure all necessary infrastructure is available at existing sites. We also look three to five years out to determine where the next industrial site could be in the County. While landing a large project is a tremendous boon for a local economy it is rare. As we develop relationships with recruiters and work to increase our odds for success in the recruitment game we must also keep our eyes focused here within the County. There is always work to be done to grow and develop our assets – such as our workforce. The more we improve these assets the more competitive we will be for our existing industry and new potential clients. We must constantly be striving to make Burke County a more attractive place for companies seeking a new production home.

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