Site Selector’s Guild Fall Forum

EDCUtah’s Chief Operating Officer Michael Flynn recently attended the Site Selector’s Guild Fall Forum to learn more about the latest trends in the site selection industry.

The conference—located in Seattle—covered numerous topics from the importance of employer interviews to new insight on the tech workforce.

One of the largest takeaways, according to Flynn, is a developing trend nationwide that affects executing site selection. Site selectors are having more difficulty with site visits in various markets because companies no longer want to help other companies move into the area. In the past, companies were generally supportive in helping to recruit another employer, but some markets are only seeing a 50 percent success rate when they talk to existing employers.

“In the old days, everyone talked about ‘the rising tide floating all boats.’ Maybe that isn’t the case anymore, which is interesting with tight labor markets and people having a hard time finding employees,” said Flynn.

While this trend is skewing upward in other states, Utah has a competitive advantage because generally companies are willing to work on projects and have honest conversations. In fact, Governor Gary Herbert often touts Utah’s “unprecedented partnerships” that help accomplish our economic development goals. The state benefits from various companies that work on projects, even in circumstances when the project is a competitor. Employer interviews are crucial to site selection because it validates quantitative data through qualitative means.

Additionally, the conference noted the new standard for considering a skillset ‘dense’ in a particular area is having a Location Quotient (LQ) of 2.0 or greater. LQ, a metric that measures the concentration of an occupation in a particular region, offers insight into what industries may make a region unique compared to the national average.

Utah has an LQ above 2.0 in numerous industries, which demonstrates both the state’s specialization in many areas, as well as its economic diversity. These currently include medical equipment and supplies manufacturing, software publishers, national security and international affairs, business support services, business schools and computer training management, and direct selling establishments.

Finally, the forum revealed a key insight on technology workforce success. While many companies focus on software developers in their recruitment, having a strong sales workforce is equally vital to a technology company. Efforts are continually made to develop the workforce in software development, but sales workforce is often underemphasized. Utah has a strong background in sales—the LQ is greater than 2.0—and that plays a large role in the state’s technology growth.

Overall, the conference provided key insights into the challenges that site selectors face today and how EDCUtah can adapt to the changing environment to market the State in a way that resonates with the current trends. EDCUtah is excited to institute new practices based on data from the conference and looks forward to hosting the conference in Salt Lake City in 2019.