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Key Takeaways from the 2018 Site Selectors Guild Fall Forum Breakout Sessions

The core of our 2018 Fall Forum was five breakout sessions lead by Guild members centered on issues that impact economic development. The discussions and presentations focused on the conference theme—the risk of complacency— and how each area might be impacted. Below are the key takeaways from each breakout session.

Breakout Session 1: Investment in Quality of Place and the Race for Talent

  1. The opioid epidemic has had a huge impact on the availability of labor, especially in smaller, rural communities
  2. High growth cities are becoming increasingly inequitable causing a rise in homelessness and a fall in quality of life
  3. An international knowledge worker will choose a friendlier work environment over wages
  4. Using local assets and a community-inclusive process is key to placemaking in smaller/rural communities

Breakout Session 2: Using Incentives to Drive Desired Local and Regional Outcomes

  1. Most communities have some form of incentive policy but they are often not current and can lack flexibility needed to address various deal structures
  2. Incentives often are about landing deals and aren’t aligned with local and regional policy goals
  3. Smart communities are making incentives a “public-private partnership” to address infrastructure, talent, and other citizen needs
  4. Both EDOs and companies rarely understand compliance — to their mutual peril
  5. Incentives structures are changing and calls for more transparency are increasing

Breakout Session 3: Infrastructure Assets in a New and Crumbling World

  1. Access to infrastructure continues to drive the site decision for manufacturing investments
  2. What are the key pieces of infrastructure we look for as site selectors and how can communities position themselves for investment based upon their infrastructure assets
  3. Infrastructure (roads, bridges, utilities, etc.) are in dire need of repair and upgrades through the United States. President Trump has announced a $1 trillion infrastructure plan to address these issues
  4. Given recent technology shifts (autonomous vehicles, blockchain, etc.) with infrastructure needs do we as site selectors foresee?

Breakout Session 4: Social Impact Issues and how they Impact Location Selection

  1. Diversity — racial/ethnic/gender makeup of the community and/or racial tension and their impact on corporate goals
  2. Political & Legislative Landscape — i.e. HB-2 (NC), eliminating public lands (UT), eliminating tax breaks for opposition to NRA (GA)
  3. Corporate Sustainability
  4. Economic Inclusivity — housing, minimum wage
  5. Health Care Landscape — ACA state, opioids, access, quality, stability in community

Breakout Session 5: Global Competition for Investment and Jobs

  1. Global foreign investment (measured in number of jobs and dollars) declined overall last year. Likely culprits of the lackluster results include concern over trade barriers and automation
  2. Implemented and proposed trade tariffs are having a variety of real-time impacts on site location decisions in the US and abroad. In the US, impacts also include consideration of alternate supply chains and increases or decreases in manufacturing jobs
  3. Immigration policies have a direct impact on labor availability and cost. Shifting positions on this topic in the US and Britain may have a dampening effect on business growth, while countries with more liberal policies, such as Canada, may be able to leverage this to their advantage
  4. The impacts of automation are not only being felt in job markets in the developed world, change is being elt across the globe. The role humans play in the workforce will not necessarily diminish… it will simply be different. Geographies that adapt and retool their workforce rapidly to respond to the shift in demand will emerge as winners. Those that standstill are at risk
  5. Corporate tax reform may not result in a boon to the US economy; rather it as a step that was needed to stay on par with other countries

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