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From Site Selection magazine, January 2016

Your Credentials, Please

by Mark Arend

All content in this issue will give you food for thought as your location discernment for 2016 gets underway. I hope two articles in particular will have you dining all year — the State of the States cover story and the workforce development article. The first delivers our most comprehensive annual treatment yet of the 50 states and their receptivity to your capital investment — or at least what you’re walking into when you invest in one of them.

The second, on workforce development, will see regular elucidation in the Site Selection issues still to come this year and beyond. Much is going on in this important area, and I intend for Site Selection to be your partner in sorting out the initiatives designed to help employers make more educated decisions concerning the true workforce assets available to them as they weigh site options.

I begin in this issue introducing the importance of “credentialing” skill sets available in areas’ labor pools. Industries, areas, education entities and others are working to quantify workforce skills — credentials — so that when you do select a location you can be confident that it can supply the workers you need today and in the future, and that the candidates showing up for job interviews are qualified. Much attention is now focused on ways to get private industry to better articulate the skills it requires so areas and education institutions can deliver them.

You already have some clues in this issue about where to start learning about this. Another is to figure out which states are taking the lead on the government side to make available to you the data your site selection team needs to make informed recommendations with respect to the workforce. Contact Debra Lyons and her team at ACT, Inc., in Atlanta, or at least visit, to learn which states and counties are working with education and industry to put their areas in a certifiably good light by supporting efforts to broaden the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) testing program. NCRC data is one third of our workforce development rankings, and we include that data in our analysis of the 50 states. It’s that important.

I plan to put areas and states on the spot this year by asking them whether they are involved in such credentialing initiatives. And we’ll ask our corporate interviewees to what extent they seek such credentialing data — or whether the areas they looked at could provide it. A number of states will pass that pop quiz just fine, like South Dakota. Some won’t.

“Since testing began six years ago, nearly 12,000 South Dakotans have earned an NCRC and, compared to the national average, our job seekers consistently have attained higher levels,” wrote Gov. Dennis Daugaard in his Oct. 30th column. “I’m happy to say that I’ve taken the three tests myself. I completed the core assessments a few weeks ago to become more familiar with the certificate, and I’ve challenged my cabinet and staff to do the same. After taking the test myself, I’d encourage businesses to become more familiar with the NCRC. Even if applicants are lacking in academic certificates or diplomas, they may still have the right work skills. The NCRC can indicate when that is the case.”

Can your state’s chief executive say the same? Happy New Year from my team to yours.

Till next time,

Mark Arend
Editor in Chief

Mark Arend
Editor in Chief of Site Selection magazine

Mark Arend

Mark Arend has been editor in chief of Site Selection magazine since 2001. Prior to joining the editorial staff in 1997, he worked for 10 years in New York City at Wall Street Computer Review, ABA Banking Journal and Global Investment Technology. Mark graduated from the University of Hartford (Conn.) in 1985 and lives near Atlanta, Georgia.


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