GUEST VIEWPOINT: Site Inventory Program Arms Orange County with Key Facts to Accommodate New Projects
Conor Eckert | September 20, 2023
Executing sector specific economic development strategy is not an overnight process—it takes research, relationships, and an in-depth understanding of the market. When an economic development organization gets an opportunity to compete for a major project in Advanced Manufacturing, speed and accuracy are everything. That’s why we rolled out the Site Inventory Program (S.I.P.)—to give us a better understanding of which sites, communities, and areas of Orange County can accommodate what we’ve deemed as “strategic sectors”—including Advanced Manufacturing, Advanced Materials, Life Sciences, Clean Energy and Microelectronics.
The reasoning behind developing the Site Inventory Program was clear—to develop a portfolio of on/off market sites that can accommodate strategic sectors. This included a comprehensive review of the infrastructure profiles, approval/entitlement timelines, municipal objectives, incentive options, and workforce connectivity for each community in Orange County. This information arms us with the knowledge we need to confidentially approach consultants and site selectors with sites that we know can accommodate manufacturing-oriented projects.
Site Selector Relationships
Site Selectors are influential consultants that work on behalf of major corporations to lead their search for real estate—often across the world. When a company such as Micron is ready to expand its footprint, they enlist the help of a Site Selector to manage the site search process.
A major part of the Site Inventory Program, outside of the on-the-ground data gathering, was interviewing major site selectors that represent clients in our targeted industry clusters. We learned the common infrastructure, workforce, and site requirements for the sectors that we want to attract. Separately, we bolstered our relationships with a handful of site selectors undertaking projects in the Northeast. The relationship between the site selector and economic developer is sacred—and can help take a location to the “next level” of economic development.
Outcomes and Next Steps
The Site Inventory Program was a creation out of necessity if we want to continue to compete for transformational economic development projects. We must know our sites and infrastructure better than anyone else. We are now in a position to be proactive, not reactive when working to attract our target industries. Since the conclusion of this program, we’ve responded to more than 15 project requests from site selectors and consultants, mostly in the manufacturing sector.
Knowledge is power—having an in-depth understanding of infrastructure and sites has positioned us to compete for dynamic projects. I’ll reiterate—when fighting to land an economic development project, speed and accuracy are everything. We have both, and we’re ready to execute.