Turnover rates should also be analyzed, he says, because "when you have to retrain employees time and time again, operating costs can substantially increase for companies."
The majority of communities provide a survey outlining wage and benefit rates, which are largely impacted by geography and organized labor presence. Often, incentive packages are tied to companies meeting or exceeding community wage averages.
When Country Fresh Inc., Houston, outgrew its current produce processing center near Greenville, SC, company executives knew they wanted to move the plant to another site in the same region. Carter & Burgess helped the company select a site just 10 miles away on which to build a 50,000--square--foot plant. Doing so allowed the company to keep its 225 employees and to continue to reach its customer base.
The site came with highway frontage, sufficient utility capacities and tax abatement incentives. Carter & Burgess also conducted wetland impact studies on the site.
Chris Petro, chief financial officer of Country Fresh, says any real estate agent can go and find a site, but he valued the expertise of Carter & Burgess in evaluating infrastructure, conducting environmental studies and finding incentives.
"They knew what questions to ask," he says. "I'm sure a lot of times these incentives are available, but most of the time companies don’t talk to the right people to utilize them. Carter & Burgess did."
Don't forget the local community, caution the experts. For example, a recent hue and cry went up in a Wisconsin town when local residents deemed a Roundy's distribution center there an eyesore and demanded that the facility be torn down. The company spent $65 million for the 1.1 million--square--foot DC on 112 acres. Residents expected nine smaller buildings rather than the larger facility. Similar public outcry has been directed at warehouse projects planned in other parts of the country as well.
Site selection consultants can help avoid such impediments to the march of progress by keeping communities informed about the exact plans that incoming companies have so there are no surprises. "A good reason to work with a company like ours is we can help navigate the community awareness issues to educate local communities," Schook says.