From Site Selection magazine, November 2005
Your Job Description
Is About to Expand
hose of us attending the IAMC Professional Forum in Corpus Christi, Texas, recently were more than cognizant of the post-Katrina situation elsewhere on the Gulf Coast. In fact, at one point just two weeks prior to the conference, IAMC staff and leadership were busy making conference contingency plans in the event Hurricane Rita stayed on course and came ashore at Corpus Christi, as early forecasts indicated would be the case. It wasn't, and the conference was hugely successful by all accounts.
Reminders of the storms and their aftermath were ubiquitous at the Professional Forum. Some shared personal anecdotes of trying to reach staff at facilities in the affected areas. Others spoke of people living temporarily in their communities around the country as they rebuild their lives. The Wednesday morning speaker, Tulane University economics professor Peter Ricchiuti, had to move his family into his in-laws' home in Baton Rouge, La., due to damage at his own home in New Orleans.
Well before the conference began on October 8th (coverage of two of the sessions can be found in the "IAMC Insider" section of this issue), I had taken several calls from business reporters around the country asking whether I had seen any evidence of economic development agencies seeking to take advantage of the situation by recruiting companies affected by the storms to their areas. I have not. In fact, just recently the International Economic Development Council issued a "no poaching" policy to discourage the practice in case any agencies were considering taking that course of action. It's one thing to lure companies away from areas with man-made issues that make doing business there undesirable California's energy brownouts of a few years ago comes to mind. It's quite another to exploit natural disasters.
One issue was raised at the Forum in Corpus Christi that I'd like to mention here, because it's one that will gain more currency in the months ahead. At the "Get Some Help" session moderated by Rick Little, director of real estate at Weyerhaeuser Corp., corporate real estate executives were asked: To what extent should the corporate real estate manager be a part of business-continuity strategy planning? Conversely, to what extent should a disaster-recovery expert participate in the site-selection process? To both questions, the consensus was "significantly and early on."
IAMC programs at future Professional Forums will likely address those issues, as will articles in future issues of Site Selection. In the meantime, look for a special report in the January 2006 issue on how the Gulf Coast region is coming back, from new infrastructure to new corporate facilities. We predict a new and improved Gulf Coast will take shape, and you will read about its progress here. And to the extent IAMC active members and real estate executives at large play a more central role in disaster planning and recovery, we will also see a new and improved corporate real estate profession emerge.
Till next time,
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