well-regarded site consultant at a corporate services company doing work around the globe approached me in recent weeks with concerns about the location analysis business. He had just taken part in long meetings overseas with a multinational company on the brink of making substantial investments, and government and investment promotion agency personnel hoping to win that investment. Looking back on those meetings and recalling other discussions between investors and their project partners, he sees potential disconnects that easily could jeopardize projects — or land them in the wrong locations.
One concern is overreliance on data and algorithms when analyzing costs (labor, real estate) and other factors. As helpful as they can be, do they necessarily paint the best picture of a location’s long-term viability? Should they replace on-the-ground expertise about labor supply and other critical needs?
Now more than ever, this consultant maintains, corporate facility investors want two things: certainty in an uncertain global business climate and close partnership with their service providers and location representatives. Certainty is elusive, of course. Black swans like the pandemic are virtually impossible to predict. But investors can get close if all parties working on the location equation work as a team, not as experts in their own silos. To the second requirement, haven’t investors always wanted strong, productive working relationships with project participants? Yes, but it may be time for a booster shot in that regard.
Among the qualities he sees in high demand from investors are clarity in location options, old-fashioned tire kicking rather than reliance on data modelling and other tools and a heightened willingness to partner in finding creative solutions in challenging timeframes. In other words, they want risk managers more than computer programs, though those have a role. We’ll revisit this topic in due course. The consultant has agreed to amplify his concerns in our pages so that investors can consider them as they pick partners on capital investment projects — and have a higher degree of confidence that those projects will succeed on all fronts.
Meanwhile, we salute in this issue the successful projects in Canada that contributed to making certain provinces and metro areas the Best Locations there for 2022. We cover Canadian projects all year, but this report recognizes the areas in Canada that work so hard to attract them. This issue also recognizes the Top Utilities and their economic development teams that played critical roles in bringing investment and jobs to their service areas.
Till next time,
Mark Arend, Editor in Chief