Recent visits to Los Angeles and attendance at Industrial Asset Management Council (IAMC) confirmed trends of workforce and infrastructure. The rationale is fairly simple behind not asking about incentives first. Regardless of the dollars used to incentivize a company to move to your area, you cannot buy personnel if they do not exist. The infrastructure part of the equation is equally important given that it could (and many time does) take longer to connect infrastructure to a property than the project will allow. Many projects have a “short” timeline to “get out of the ground” and begin operation.
Workforce means finding who is available in your workspace. It is reasonable to include a drive time workforce, but it’s imperative to be realistic. $12 per hour wages does not equal a workforce that will drive an hour for semi-skilled work. Know your area, region, and most importantly, what your prevailing wages are for low-skilled, mid-skilled, and skilled labor. There is a good number of employees available (even with an unemployment rate that hovers between 3.4% and 3.6%) within the regional corridor. Most Economic Development prospects stated that labor costs for employees in New Braunfels were less than expected when compared to other parts of the United States. With any new company that moves into an area, there is some expected training that will be needed for employees. This is one of the specific goals of the Central Texas Technology Center.
The CTTC can provide employee professional development, skills development, and skills assessments for employers within the New Braunfels region. Training centers and the funding for those centers locally earn a shiny gold star in the eyes of the site selector. Plus, further incorporation of workforce skills into high school curriculum is even more attractive. Local implementation of Career and Technical (CTE) Programs such as Nepris, exposes potential future workforce to workforce employers and the work that they accomplish. Continued support and funding of workforce ready programs throughout the state keeps Texas “leading the nation in job creation.”
If your property infrastructure is not “shovel-ready,” you will get shuffled to the bottom of the stack. Are infrastructure upgrades available if needed? Are there sufficient major interstate travel routes available? Mobility and the need for increased highway construction funding is imperative to attracting business. With 70% of our workforce commuting in to New Braunfels each day, as congestion grows, it is increasingly becoming a threat to our economic prosperity. Funding through state and local partnerships for good transportation infrastructure is vital to success.
Know your cost of power, water, wastewater, and bulk disposal waste. If a new building is available, consider move-in incentives to be readily available to add to your present value of a fully equipped building. Don’t respond with 5,000 square feet if the RFI needs 10,000 square feet. The quickest way to lose any credibility in the site selector community is to respond with a square peg for a round hole. Site selectors have a memory of the bad developers and return to the good ones even if they “MIGHT” have something for them. It is crucial to have a progressive planning and development partnership with the local municipality for any economic development based project.
Know your incentives that are available forward, backwards, up and down! Nothing is more challenging than not knowing what, if any, incentives may be available for a project. Site selectors commonly look and watch development deals across the nation, and sometimes internationally, and assign an internal score to those that do well. It’s crucial to be on this list of performers. Understanding how state, region, and community leaders evaluate, support and ultimately approve recommended incentives is critical to the success of any project.