Episode 37: A Conversation with Richard Florida about Amazon HQ2: “Now is the Time for a Reset.”
Dr. Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class and The New Urban Crisis, did something unusual last week. After conferring with other leading experts on cities, he created a “Support for a Non-Aggression Pact on Amazon HQ2” petition and put it on Change.org. So far over a thousand leading thinkers from across the country have signed the document.
We spoke with him about the pact, his candid “this is nuts” view on Amazon HQ2 and why he thinks this is a “teachable moment” for the economic development profession. Listen to this high-energy conversation on your phone, tablet or computer.
Episode 36: Behind the Mercedes- Benz Expansion- An Unlikely Win for Rural Bibb County
Mercedes-Benz has been successfully building vehicles in Tuscaloosa, Alabama for twenty years. But with a decision to move forward with two major expansion projects — an 800,000 square foot global logistics center and a 1.3 million square foot after-sales parts hub – the company quietly began looking for new location options in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.
Bibb County – a rural Alabama county with a population 22,000 – was the winner of both projects. We talk to Jason Hoff, CEO and President of Mercedes-Benz in the United States about the decision. But we also talk with Jeff Traywick, an economic developer from the regional group the Birmingham Business Alliance who managed the project. He helped us identify and recognize two unsung heroes that made the deal possible.
Episode 35: Top Consultants Forecast Site Selection Trends for 2018 (Condensed)
So what does 2018 look like in terms of site selection? Will Amazon’s HQ2 search process be adopted by other companies? What will happen in the area of foreign direct investment? And how will the recently approved tax bill impact investment decisions?
“The Project” Podcast sits down with Mark Williams, President of the Strategic Development Group and Dennis Donovan, a Principal with WDG Consulting for their perspective on the year ahead. Both individuals are members of the Site Selectors Guild. They share interesting answers to some difficult questions in the first podcast of the new year.
We’re pleased to share two versions of this episode below:
- Condensed version of the interview…Think of this as the “best of Mark and Dennis.” We’ve cut down the full interview to the most relevant 35 minutes of our discussion with these two consultants.
- Full “uncut” version of the interview…A full hour of our time sitting down with Mark and Dennis for all of our listeners who just can’t get enough of the site selection world.
Episode 35: Top Consultants Forecast Site Selection Trends for 2018 (Uncut)
Episode 34: The Cost of Corporate Culture and Why It Pays to Stay: M&M Industries Expands in Chattanooga, TN
In November 2017, M&M Industries announced a $42 million expansion in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the company has been based since its founding in 1986. The manufacturer of plastic containers for the chemical, paint and bioscience clients looked at locations in other parts of Tennessee as well as the states of Georgia, Texas and Ohio. And while many factors played a role in the location decision, ultimately, it came down to the costs – both hidden and direct – of building a company culture. To get the full story, we spoke with Glenn Morris, President & CEO of M&M Industries, Inc. and Steve Hiatt, Director of Existing Business Development for the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.
Episode 33: Evoqua Upgrades Corporate Image with Move to Downtown Pittsburgh
Evoqua Water Technologies moved just 20 miles from suburban Warrendale, Pennsylvania to three-top floors of a 37-story corporate office building in the heart of Pittsburgh’s central business district. The company press release said it was all about tapping into the “vibrancy and energy” of downtown. But in the wake of the company’s rapid growth and a successful initial public offering, it was also about sending a message to employees, customers and the entire Pittsburgh region that Evoqua is a company on the move. To get the full story, we speak with Christopher Wild, Evoqua’s Global Corporate Real Estate Manager and Patty Horvatich, Vice President of Business Investment for the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance.
Episode 32: As One Door Closes…How Bluffton, Indiana Lost and Gained a Major Manufacturer in 6 Months
When a manufacturer announces plans to shut down its plant in a rural community, it’s not often followed by good news. But for Bluffton, Indiana, the loss of a major employer was the start of positive change and, ultimately, a happy ending. This week we bring you the story of 20/20 Custom Molded Plastics and its decision to take over the factory and machinery of a competitor company, along with much of its workforce, in Wells County, Indiana. To get the full story, we talk to Ron Ernsberger, Owner and President of 20/20 Custom Molded Plastics, and Chad Kline, Executive Director of the Wells County Economic Development Corporation.
Episode 31: Alabama Bets the Farm on Mercedes-Benz (and Wins)
“Tell me if this is true or false. If it’s true, I’m gonna throw you out this window.” This was one of the more colorful exchanges when a member of the Alabama economic development team confronted a Mercedes-Benz negotiator with a USA Today article that said the company’s automotive manufacturing plant was headed for the state of North Carolina.
In our continuing “The Big Deal” series, we take a look at Mercedes-Benz’ announcement of plans to open its first and only manufacturing plant to North America in 1993. Tuscaloosa County, Alabama was the winner of this 1,500 person manufacturing plant that has grown to nearly 7,000 workers over the past 20+ years. To get the full story, we talked to Dara Longgrear, Executive Director of the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority, Samuel Addy is a Senior Research Economist with the University of Alabama and Neil Wade, a veteran economic developer who was the President of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama at the time of the Mercedes-Benz announcement.
Episode 30: 30 Hutterite Colonies, 800,000 Chickens and 1 Economic Developer
This week we bring you a bit of an unusual site selection story involving Montana Eggs, a company formed as a partnership of 30 Hutterite colonies, a denomination of communal Anabaptists, like the Amish and Mennonites, in Montana. In September 2017, the company celebrated the grand opening of its $9 million, 58,000-square-foot egg grading facility in Great Falls, Montana. The new operation will process more than 280 million eggs annually. To get the full story, we talked to Mike Kleinsasser, Secretary-Treasurer of Montana Eggs and Brett Doney, President and CEO of the Great Falls Montana Development Authority.
Episode 29: The New York Times Solves the Amazon HQ2 Puzzle: An Interview with Reporter Emily Badger
Of the hundreds of articles written about Amazon’s HQ2 search, only one publication has taken the bold step to apply the criteria outlined in Amazon’s public request for proposal and independently conduct its own search. That was The New York Times, which published “Dear Amazon: We Picked Your Headquarters for You” on September 9, 2017. The article has been widely read and created a storm of discussion on social media—so we decided to interview Emily Badger, the reporter behind the somewhat controversial piece. Here’s our conversation.
Episode 28: Tech on the Bayou? Looking Back at IBM’s Surprising Decision to Locate in Baton Rouge
In March 2013, IBM shocked the tech community with its plan to build an 800-job technology center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In our second episode of “The Big Deal” series, we take a look at the impact of this major announcement on Baton Rouge and the State of Louisiana as a whole. To get the full story, we talked to Adam Knapp, President and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) and Greg Trahan, Director of Economic Development for Louisiana State University (LSU). Finally, to zero in on the effect of the project on the community, we asked our DCI colleague and current resident of Baton Rouge, Rebecca Gehman, to conduct some “woman on the street” interviews with local business owners.
Episode 27: Who Will Win $1.6 Billion Toyota/Mazda Plant? Site Consultants Speculate
On August 4, 2017, the presidents of Toyota and Mazda held a joint press conference and announced they had formed a joint-venture to construct a $1.6 billion manufacturing plant in the United States. US governors and their economic development chiefs were hot on the trail of a prize that promised 4,000 direct jobs to the winning state.
The Project tackles this high-profile search in two parts. First we speak to Dean Barber, Principal at Barber Business Advisors for his take on the Toyota/Mazda Project and where it will land. But we also share the findings of a DCI survey of 70 site selection consultants for their best guess at the winning state.
Episode 26: North Carolina Wins Second Infosys Innovation Hub…Who is Next?
In May 2017, India-based IT consulting firm Infosys announced plans to hire 10,000 workers across four new innovation and technology hubs in the U.S. The first hub was announced for Indianapolis in May and, in July, it was announced that the second hub would go to Wake County, North Carolina. To get the full story behind Infosys’ decision to bring 2,000 jobs to North Carolina’s Research Triangle region, we talked to Ravi Kumar, President and Deputy Chief Operating Officer at Infosys, North Carolina Senator Jay Chaudhuri and Chris Chung, CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC).
Episode 25: The Curious Case of Foxconn: Site Selection in the Age of Trump
On Wednesday, July 26, Foxconn announced its decision to build a $10 billion manufacturing plant in Wisconsin with the promise to create at least 3,000 jobs. In return, the Taiwanese company will receive $3 billion in incentives from the State of Wisconsin. From the moment the announcement was made in the East Room of the White House, it has caused a bit of a stir in the economic development community. Given that the major players in the decision weren’t able to speak with us, we queried a range of smart people – some on-the-record and some off-the-record – to bring you this special episode of “The Project.”
Episode 24: One Potato…Two Potato…The Little Potato Company Builds U.S. Headquarters in Wisconsin
With over 300 employees and facilities in Edmonton and Prince Edward Island, Canada, The Little Potato Company isn’t exactly small potatoes. The company has experienced double-digit growth since 2012 and finally decided it was time to set-up its first major facility in the United States. Sanford Gleddie, a company Vice President who had never conducted a site location search in his life, raised his hand and was charged with finding a U.S. headquarters for the company. And his search led him to the state of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
Episode 23: BMW and South Carolina: The Big Deal That Almost Never Happened
This week, we bring you a new sub-series called “The Big Deal,” which takes a look at some of the biggest economic development deals in history and how they impacted communities. We start with BMW’s decision to bring its first facility outside of Germany to Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1992. To get the full story, we talked to Douglas Woodward, an economist with the University of South Carolina, Bobby Hitt, a former BMW staffer who became the Secretary of the South Carolina Department of Commerce in 2011, and Wayne Sterling, a legendary economic developer who managed the BMW project 25 years ago. Listen on to learn how Governor Carroll Campbell convinced BMW’s Chairman to reverse an initial decision to locate the plant in Omaha, Nebraska.
Episode 22: China’s Ruyi Group Finds “High Cotton” in Arkansas
Shandong Ruyi Technology Group is a privately-held textile manufacturer based in China that employs 20,000 people around the globe. The company already had operations everywhere from Japan to Italy, but determined in 2015 that it was time to set up a major manufacturing facility in North America. They “followed the cotton,” their primary natural resource, to Texas, North Carolina and South Carolina, but ultimately chose a location in Arkansas – a state that barely made it on their short list, but impressed the company’s Chairman and his team with their responsiveness and tenacity. We spoke with two key players to get the full story: Jane Liu, a Chinese lawyer who was a key player guiding the company’s site selection process, and Danny Games, Deputy Director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.
Episode 21: Behind Aetna’s Headquarters Relocation Decision: Top Consultants Weigh In
On Thursday, June 29th, Aetna, Inc., a Fortune 50 insurance giant, announced a decision that had been months in the making. The company would relocate its corporate headquarters from Hartford, Connecticut, the company’s home base for 146 years, to New York City.
On the day after the announcement, we set-up a conference call with two highly-respected site selection consultants to get their take on Aetna’s decision. You’ll hear from Larry Gigerich, Managing Director of Ginovus and Jay Biggins, Executive Managing Director of Biggins Lacy Shapiro, another highly respected site consulting firm. Both firms are members of the Site Selectors Guild.
Episode 20: Act Two: Indian Pharmaceutical Company Grows in Fairfax County, Virginia
This week, we bring you the story of Granules Pharmaceuticals, an Indian manufacturer of generic pharmaceuticals, which announced plans in May 2017 to invest $35 million and more than double its workforce in Fairfax County, Virginia. The company initially established a physical presence in the U.S. in 2014 with an R&D facility in Fairfax County and will soon begin manufacturing there as part of the expansion. We talked to Priyanka Chigurupati, Executive Vice President of Corporate Strategy & Business Development at Granules India Limited, and Dr. Gerald Gordon, President and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, for the story.
Episode 19: In Data We Trust: How Companies Select Data Center Locations
As “big data” comes to the world of commerce, we’ve seen a major spike in the creation of new data centers for companies like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and IBM. To gain insight into this trend, we arranged an interview with Joe Suppers, Principal of NodeCom, Inc. Joe is the only consultant we know that is solely focused on data center site selection. He has worked with companies like America Online, Metromedia Fiber, 360 Networks and Switch since 1995.
Joe is the only consultant we know that is solely focused on data center site selection. He has worked with companies like America Online, Metromedia Fiber, 360 Networks and Switch since 1995.
Episode 18: Phoenix Rising: Quality of Life Drives Kudelski’s HQ Location Decision
This week we bring you the story of the Kudelski Group, a Swiss company that was looking to open its first corporate headquarters in North America. The company looked at three regions in the Western United States – Denver, San Francisco and Phoenix – and, in the tradition of amazing Swiss efficiency, they made the decision in just 90 days.
Quality of life, according to Rich Fennessy, President & CEO of Kudelski Security, was the single most important factor in the decision—a first for “The Project.” Chris Camacho, President and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC), weighs in on the decision process from the economic development perspective.
Episode 17: Game On: Trump Administration Moves Forward with SelectUSA
While a lot is changing in Washington this year, new Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recently confirmed one important initiative that is full steam ahead. SelectUSA, a program focused on helping the United States attract more foreign direct investment, is continuing and will be holding its fourth investment summit in the Washington area on June 18-20.
“The Project” travels to Washington for an interview with Fred Volcansek, SelectUSA’s New Executive Director. Anne McKinney, the organization’s Director of Investment Services, joins Fred for the interview.
We also hear from the leader of one economic development group that has successfully worked with SelectUSA in the past. Jan Rogers, CEO for the Regional Economic Development Corporation for Eastern Idaho (or REDI for short) talks about her collaboration with the organization and success attracting two Japanese companies to Idaho as a result.
Episode 16: Talent, Talent, Talent: Citrix Picks North Carolina Over Georgia and Florida
This week we bring you the story of how talent trumped just about every other factor that goes into a location decision to allow Raleigh to win a $5 million, 400-job expansion from Citrix, beating out competition in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Alpharetta, Georgia, Santa Clara, California and Austin, Texas. We talk to Nate Spilker, Vice President of Product Management at Citrix, and James Sauls, Economic Development Director for the City of Raleigh, to get the full story.
Episode 15: Talent, Facilities and Market Access Drive NEST iON to Rochester, New York
Welcome to our most international episode of “The Project” to date. NEST iON is a start-up company that manufactures specialized batteries for the law enforcement and security profession. The company was founded by a Spanish entrepreneur who relocated to Ireland, initially outsourced all of his manufacturing to South Korea and now has his sights on entering the U.S. market. In February 2017, the company announced plans to open a research & development/manufacturing facility at the Eastman Business Park, a 2.5 million square foot facility owned by Kodak. We interview company founder Boris Gragera, Matt Hurlbutt of Greater Rochester Enterprise and Matt Fronk of NY BEST (New York Battery & Energy Storage Technology Consortium) for the story behind NEST iON’s decision to locate in Rochester, New York.
Episode 14: Inside the Site Selectors Guild
The Site Selectors Guild started in 2010 with a dozen or so individuals quietly agreeing to create the world’s first trade association of site selection consultants. Seven years later, the organization has been wildly successful growing their ranks to 43 current members and hosting professional conferences that literally sell out in minutes.
To gain insight into the Guild and its members, “The Project” sits down with Phil Schneider, an industry veteran who has worked nearly 400 site selection projects over the past 31 years. Phil recently stepped down as the organization’s Chair but remains an active member of the Guild’s Board of Directors.
Episode 13: A Guide to Winning Amazon’s Next Announcement
With plans to add 100,000 new, full-time, full-benefit jobs across the U.S. in the next 18 months, Amazon is the world’s leading e-commerce company and one of the most sought-after companies for communities looking to attract jobs and investment. This week, to gain insight into the process of winning an Amazon project, we looked over the long list of communities that have successfully landed Amazon facilities in the past two years and arranged a conference call with two seasoned economic developers: Adriana Cruz, President and CEO of the Greater San Marcos Partnership, and Jerry Mallot, President of the JAXUSA Partnership in Jacksonville, Florida. Here are their insights into successful working with this fast growing company and our guide to winning Amazon’s next project.
Episode 12: Sweden, Germany or USA? Packsize Selects Utah for International Headquarters
Packsize is a pioneer in “on-demand packaging systems,” a technology that allows companies to create custom boxes for their products, reducing packaging volume by about 40 percent. With customers like Staples, Cabela’s and Boston Scientific, the company is rapidly growing and, though they considered Sweden and Germany, decided to make their biggest expansion to-date in Salt Lake City, Utah. We talk to Hanko Kiessner, CEO of Packsize and Brad Baird, Senior Business Development Manager at EDCUtah.
Episode 11: Goodbye Atlanta…Hello Fayetteville: Menguin Thrives as Big Fish in a Small Pond
This week, we bring you the story of Menguin, a company that sought to bring the somewhat dated and often frustrating world of tuxedo rentals into the digital age with an online retail platform. The company was conceived on the campus of Indiana University and got its start in Atlanta, Georgia, but really found its stride when its co-founders took the advice of investor John James of Hayseed Ventures and relocated to Fayetteville, Arkansas. We talk to Justin Delaney, CEO of Menguin, and Brett Amerine, COO of Startup Junkie Consulting, to get the full story.
Episode 10: A Cyclist Invests $125 Million in Tennessee
In October 2016, three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond took the stage in Oak Ridge, Tennessee to announce one of the most significant developments in carbon fiber production over the past 50 years—the opening of his company, LeMond Composites. The project involves $125 million in investment and the creation of 250 jobs in Tennessee over the next five years. To get the full story, “The Project” talked to Connie Jackson, research engineer and CEO of LeMond Composites, and Gary Human, East Tennessee Regional Director at the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
Update: Connie Jackson has since left her post as CEO of LeMond Composites.
Episode 9: Two Consultants Forecast Site Selection Trends for 2017
So what does 2017 look like in terms of site location decisions? How will the Trump Presidency impact corporate decision-making? And will new minimum wage increases in states like New York, California and Colorado change the landscape at all?
“The Project” sits down with Kathy Mussio, Managing Partner with Atlas Insight and Brett Bayduss, Executive Vice President of the Site Selection Group for their perspective on the year ahead. They share interesting answers to some difficult questions in the first podcast of the new year.
Episode 8: Charles Schwab’s Crystal Ball: Projecting the Location of “Future Talent” Leads to Texas
Charles Schwab recently announced plans to build a $100 million campus that would initially house 1,200 staffers in Westlake, Texas, a growing community in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. Understanding where the right financial services talent “is going to be” in the next 20 years was the key to selecting a location in the Dallas region.
To get the inside story we decided to “Talk to Chuck” – or in this case Chuck’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Real Estate Glenn Cooper. We also interview Larry Gigerich, Managing Director of Ginovus (a site selection firm engaged by the company) and the Honorable Laura Wheat, Mayor of Westlake, Texas.
Episode 7: Trump and Carrier Corp: The Deal That Saved 1,000 U.S. Jobs
It started with a Thanksgiving Day tweet from Donald Trump: “I am working hard, even on Thanksgiving, trying to get Carrier to stay in the U.S. MAKING PROGRESS – Will know soon!”
On December 1, just a week later, President-Elect Trump, Vice-President-Elect Pence and Greg Hayes, President of Carrier Corp’s parent company, stood on-stage together and announced that 1,000 jobs would stay in the United States and not relocate to Mexico. It was an extraordinary reversal and Carrier’s local workforce couldn’t have been happier.
So on the day of the announcement, we set up a conference call with two highly-respected site selection consultants to get their take on this decision. You’ll hear from Larry Gigerich, Managing Director of Ginovus and Michelle Comerford, Industrial & Supply Chain Manager with Biggins Lacy Shapiro, another highly respected site consulting firm. Both firms are members of the Site Selectors Guild.
Episode 6: Should I Stay or Should I Go? – Illinois Manufacturer Weighs Move to Wisconsin
Vonco Products, a manufacturer of flexible packaging products with 80+ employees, recently announced plans to move its operations across state lines from Lake Villa, Illinois to Salem, Wisconsin. If you’re up on your Midwestern geography, you know that move was just 20 miles to the North. But the deal at the center of this episode was nearly two years in the making. We talk to Keith Smith, President at Vonco Products, and Todd Battle, President of the Kenosha Area Business Alliance, to get the full story.
Episode 5: Under the Radar: Telecommunications Firm Quietly Explores Headquarters Relocation
Hotwire Communications is a fast-growing, privately held company that was rapidly outgrowing its headquarters in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. When they began exploring a new location, they did so quietly without the help of consultants or economic development organizations. Their search led them to purchase a 180,000 square foot building in Fort Lauderdale that was a perfect match with their needs. And they called upon both the city and the state for a $1.9 million incentive package that would seal the deal.
We interview Dan O’Connell, Vice President of Sales for Hotwire Communications and Bob Swindell, President/CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance in this episode.
Episode 4: Waiting For Alorica: A Site Selection Drama in Three Acts
Alorica is a $2 billion company with over 92,000 employees and the largest customer engagement company in the United States. They operate 162 different centers across the country but they needed to add new facility based on their growth path. They looked at a short list of five communities in the Southeast but ultimately chose Owensboro, Kentucky for a new center that will employ over 800 people.
We talked to Greg Bush, a Divisional Vice President with Alorica, Jeff Pappas who is with E. Smith Realty and served as a consultant on the project and Madison Silvert, President and CEO of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation and produced the following episode titled “Waiting for Alorica: A Site Selection Drama in Three Acts.”
Episode 3: Go West Young Firm…Tech Startup Finds Home in Reno
The name of the company is CAEK – which stands for Catherine, Anna, Elizabeth and Katie – four entrepreneurial women who started a software development company in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Their growth plans will take them from 9 employees today to a staff of 150 people in five years. So the need for talent and venture capital took them to the West. They looked at tech hotspots of Silicon Valley, Salt Lake City, Seattle and Austin but ultimately they decided to relocate their growing company to Reno, Nevada. We talked to CAEK Founder Katie Lay and Stan Thomas, Executive Vice President of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (or EDAWN for short).
Episode 2: If You Build It…Dana Inc., Toledo and the Spec Building
When Dana Incorporated was selected to supply axles for the next-generation Jeep Wrangler, the company chose the Overland Industrial Park in Toledo, Ohio – the exact site where the first Jeeps were built in the 1940’s – as the site of its new manufacturing facility. For the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, which purchased the site in 2010 and invested heavily to attract tenants, the decision represented a big risk that ultimately paid off. We talked to Ken Andres, Global Director of Real Estate and Construction at Dana, and Paul Toth, President and CEO of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, to get the full story.
Episode 1: Fast Growth Tech Company Finds New Home in Old Space
iCIMS, a technology firm that had been on the Inc. 500 list for ten years in a row, had outgrown its existing space. Based in Central New Jersey, the company needed a new home that would appeal to its millennial talent. Their search took them to Bell Works, a former research laboratory constructed in 1962 with a long history of innovation. They hit some bumps along the way, but with the help of a pioneering real estate developer, our story has a happy ending.
Andy Levine is President/Chief Creative Officer of DCI and Creator of “The Project.” As the son of Ted Levine, founder of Development Counsellors International, Andy was introduced to the world of economic development and travel marketing at birth. Since joining the firm in 1991, Andy has helped launch the company into a new era, advancing the quality of client work performed, growing the number of staff and adding to the range of client services offered.
Patience Fairbrother is an Senior Account Executive at DCI and Co-host of “The Project.” Since joining DCI in 2014, Patience has worked on a broad range of marketing programs from the State of Texas to the Netherlands. Her passion both for podcasts and economic development inspired her work on “The Project.”
Read the full transcript for each episode below.
Episode 34: The Cost of Corporate Culture and Why It Pays to Stay: M&M Industries Expands in Chattanooga, TN
Episode 32: As One Door Closes…How Bluffton, Indiana Lost and Gained a Major Manufacturer in 6 Months