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From Site Selection magazine, November 2013

Mitigating Risk

Industry leaders and site consultants share best practices with economic developers.

Janus Report

ite Selection is all about risk management and risk analysis.”

Buzz Canup, Greenville, S.C.-based site consultant, shared this and other advice at the fifth annual Janus Forum in Rabun County, Ga., in mid-August.

Canup joined an esteemed program of speakers for the three-day event hosted by noted site consultant Robert Pittman and his wife Anita Pittman in Lakemont, Ga., on the shores of historic and scenic Lake Rabun.

Will Hearn, senior technologist with CH2M Hill and managing director of Site Dynamics, also spoke on the consultants panel at Kingwood Resort in nearby Clayton. “There is no national standard for site certification,” he told the audience of some 35 economic development professionals. “You do not have to have a certified sites program, but there is value in having outside experts come in and evaluate what your community has to offer prospective businesses.”

Canup concurred, noting that “having a certified site is not a magnet for a site consultant, but I have never seen a bad certified sites program.”

Hearn says that any site selector worth his or her salt will do independent research on any site anyway. “I get a lot of certified sites put in front of me,” he says. “But I still have to do my own due diligence. When I present a site to my client, I don’t even tell them that it is a certified site. Certified sites help from a marketing standpoint, and they may be necessary in order to remain competitive with other states and communities that have them.”

Canup told attendees that “site selection begins with site elimination. I am looking for 10 to 12 sites out of maybe 300 that are presented to me. A lot of economic developers ask me what they can do to improve their chances of landing a project. Number one is make sure you read the directions.”

“Site selection is all about risk management and risk analysis.”
— Buzz Canup, Site Consultant, Canup & Associates

Both Canup and Hearn said they preferred to deal primarily with a state contact on a project. “I go directly to the state contacts and ask them to respond to the RFPs,” says Canup.

“At some point in the process, the state will have to be involved in a big way on the project,” says Hearn. “Typically, I go straight to the state on day one. I do that because I only want to see the very best sites.”

Hearn advised community representatives that “there is no magic bullet to site selection. It is not a home-run game. There is no one way to make sure your community gets noticed. You need inventory, you need a marketing plan, you need targeted industries, and you need to be strategic,” he says. “If you do all of these things, there is a good chance that you will be considered for a project.”

Hearn advised community leaders to “invest in yourself, invest in your infrastructure and invest in green space. Asheville, Oklahoma City and Denver are all good examples of communities that have made these kinds of investments, and they are paying off in a big way in all three cities.”

Canup and Hearn were joined on the three-day program by leaders from aviation, aerospace and leadership development. Captain Alan Price, founder and principal of Falcon Leadership LLC, shared lessons in leadership from his days as the chief pilot for Delta.

“I was chief pilot for Delta in Atlanta when 9/11 occurred,” he said. “The basics of leadership never change. Excellence is an attitude, not a skill to be learned.”

Richard Huseman, an executive coach and author of 21 books including “How the Brain Works: Unlock the Secret to Great Leadership,” told attendees, “You can increase your effectiveness if you become more intentional. The number one reason people stay at their job and work hard is their immediate leader. Great leaders capture the heads and hearts of their people.”

The Janus Institute, a joint venture of the Pittmans and Conway Data Inc., plans to hold three Janus Forums in 2014, with the first slated to take place on the coast of Northwest Florida in February.

The events are designed to give the premier leaders in economic development an unparalleled opportunity for networking and collaborative learning in a very relaxed, informal and safe environment.

Attendance is by invitation only. For more information, contact Amanda Lilla at 706-244-1078.

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