Last Saturday EDCUtah was in the Windy City for a site selection event at the United Center, where the Utah Jazz were facing off against the Chicago Bulls. Ultimately, the Jazz lost, but Team Utah won – at least from an economic development standpoint.
That’s because Team Utah (EDCUtah President & CEO Jeff Edwards, Chief Operating Officer Todd Brightwell, Chief Marketing Officer Michael Flynn, Governor’s Office of Economic Development Executive Director Val Hale, and Governor’s Office of Economic Development Deputy Director Theresa Foxley) spent four hours networking with 10 high profile site selectors, learning about their businesses, what motivates them and talking about how Utah can add value through opportunities in the Beehive State.
“The reception we received for this event was tremendous,” says Flynn. “The site selectors we invited were people that have done projects in Utah in the past and people we would like to bring more projects to us. We are always looking for ways to build relationships with this critical audience.”
EDCUtah conducts numerous meetings with site selectors each year. Many of the meetings are short and highly transactional, while the annual Sundance Site Selector event has become the premier site selector event in the country. Because of the success with the Sundance event, Flynn says EDCUtah wants to extend its reach into the site selection community and do it in an affordable, logistically-friendly way. What’s more, despite being loved by the site selectors, the Sundance event is spread over four days and requires a big time commitment from them. Further, it is limited to four or five site selectors per year.
“Our desire is to take what we have learned from a decade of annual Sundance Site Selector events and apply it to three or four annual site selector road trips,” says Edwards. The Chicago event was a first for us, but it was productive and we will continue to refine the model to add value and make the most of these opportunities.”
One of the things that site selectors love about our Sundance Site Selector event is the opportunity to meet with a wide collection of Utah government, business, education and civic leaders. Therefore, Flynn says that scenario will be added to future site selector road trips. “We hope to expand Team Utah by taking a collection of people with us from industry, government, the utilities and education when we host future site selector road trips,” he explains.
With all of EDCUtah’s site selector events, Brightwell says there are three primary objectives. First is to develop relationships with the site selectors so they know Team Utah on a personal level. Second is to help them understand “why we do what we do.” Third is to help them understand the advantages Utah offers as a premier business destination.
“We believe these site selector road trips will allow us to reach a wider audience of site selectors and market Utah in a way that resonates with them,” he explains.
Given the fact that more than 50 percent of EDCUtah’s projects come to the organization through site selectors, Edwards says placing greater emphasis on extending the connections with this highly influential group of people is a move that will make EDCUtah more effective and make its business developers much smarter in terms of dealing with the site selectors on future projects.
As Flynn notes, sitting down with the site selectors in a casual environment where they feel comfortable talking about their complaints, frustrations and war stories helps build relationships and provides enormous value from a research and marketing perspective. “When we learn what they need and what makes them tick, we can be much more effective in adding value to their efforts and that will ultimately bring more economic development projects to Utah,” he says.