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Women in Economic Development Conference Takeaways

New business locations are informed by multitudes of factors, and a key audience informing location decisions is site selectors. A resource for meeting with site selectors is the Area Development organization which hosts an annual conference for Women in Economic Development in Chicago. I went this year based on Intersect Illinois’ recommendation and found the experience to be invaluable.

The annual Women in Economic Development Forum is hosted by Area Development.

During the two-day event, I gleaned insights from 13 different site selectors working with companies around the world considering business expansions and will recap a few key takeaways on which we can work as a region.

  Staying on a site selector’s shortlist includes keeping our data and sites current in online databases. The readiness of our sites and buildings is crucial to our region’s marketability and will be a continued focus of our efforts locally.

•  Cold Storage Demand is increasing. Consider opportunities in this growing market. As a shipping and logistics hub with proximity to food, there may be opportunity in this market segment for our region.

•  The number of direct flights to headquarters per day, workforce metrics & strategy, and available sites/buildings are the key assets companies are seeking. Continued strategy around direct flight locations could prove fruitful.

•  Consider Loan Forgiveness Programs for workforce attraction (send notices to parent homes).

•  Megatronics has more jobs than graduates and is a huge growing industry. ICC has implemented a megatronics apprenticeship, keeping us ahead of the curve.

•  In addition to workforce, supply chain and site suitability, communication infrastructure, support infrastructure/services and energy costs will be key factors for site selection strategies.

•  Communities can stay ahead of the curve by incentivizing new initiatives, research and development, and IP development.

•  Understand and incentivize site readiness 4.0 so our sites keep up with the trends.

The conference was encouraging in that it validated the efforts the EDC and its partners are pursuing around workforce and innovation. It also provided direction and context for new efforts we can pursue. If you would like to hear more insights from the conference and/discuss strategies around this information, please be in touch. Conferences like these provide the insights we at the GPEDC will be using to inform our strategy moving forward.

Lenora Fisher
Director of Business Attraction

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