Time. Cost. Risk. Those three basics are crucial assessments in any business transactions. For companies looking to relocate, expand or open a new location, knowing those basics before buying a piece of property can be the difference between making money or losing everything. Enter the world of local economic development and site selection.
Creating a proactive sites and buildings plan (i.e. product development) that addresses these three aspects isn’t easy and the complexities are often difficult to communicate effectively to members of the public. In Transylvania County, NC the need for a product development effort was identified in 2014 by Goldsmith Strategies. According to Goldsmith, “One of the most fundamental truths about capital investment decisions is that, regardless of all other attributes of a community, if that community does not have a physical location for the investment, the investment will have to go someplace else. Therefore, having an adequate inventory of available sites and buildings is critical if a community is going to be successful in attracting new capital investment and jobs.” Hoping to create jobs and increase the tax base without an inventory of marketable real estate options can be likened to an automaker attempting to sell vehicles with no cars available on dealership lots. Nine times out of ten the customer will purchase from a competitor.
Enough of the problem. What’s next? On November 3rd the Alliance initiated a property identification and evaluation process which included stakeholders from Transylvania County, City of Brevard, Town of Rosman, Duke Energy, PSNC Energy, Comporium, Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce, Heart of Brevard, Tourism Development Authority and transportation partners. With the assistance of Greenfield, a North Carolina economic development and site selection firm, the Alliance will perform a comprehensive review of Transylvania County’s primary transportation corridors. Greenfield will help the community evaluate properties along these transportation routes through the lens of a prospective business or site selector. This process will include six specific tasks to help create a pathway forward.
Task 1: Review target industry sectors identified as part of the Alliance’s strategic plan. Greenfield will review the site selection criteria for each sector and use these criteria as the basis for identifying appropriate sites for each category.
Task 2: Review all known existing sites and buildings currently available for sale or lease in Transylvania County. Greenfield will also review the five sites identified and evaluated by the Transylvania County Property Identification Task Force.
Task 3: Using a Geographical Information System (GIS) the project team will use data and maps in the identification and evaluation process. Map layers will include transportation, electric, natural gas, water, sewer, telecommunication infrastructure and surrounding zoning/land use information.
Task 4: Identify and perform an examination of potential sites containing acreage conducive to commercial and light industrial development taking into account our identified target markets and known land features like wetlands, topography and conservation easements.
Task 5: Once the full inventory of potential properties is added to the GIS mapping tool the project team will sort and rank potential properties. The team will create a shortlist of sites containing a diverse array of site opportunities for each target sector.
Task 6: Based on the outcomes and issues uncovered during the evaluation process the study will recommend immediate next steps and long-term strategies to implement in conjunction with economic development partners.