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The Project: Inside Corporate Location Decisions

“The Project: Inside Corporate Location Decisions” looks at a new company every two weeks and shares the “behind the scenes” story of their relocation or expansion. Using an NPR-like format, co-hosts Andy Levine and Patience Fairbrother from Development Counsellors International (DCI) interview both company and community officials to detail the intense competition for jobs and capital investment.
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The Project: Inside Corporate Location Decisions
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Aug 5, 2020

Amid COVID-19, there is a lot of uncertainty in corporate site selection, particularly around office projects and whether they will move forward more slowly – or not at all. But today’s episode focuses on a company that did not let the pandemic impact its plans for office expansion. Accenture Federal Services announced plans in June 2020 to open an advanced technology center in St. Louis. To get the full story, we spoke with Molly Ketcham, Managing Director, Strategic Planning & Operations at Accenture Federal Services, and Steve Johnson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Alliance STL.

Jul 23, 2020

Last week, the Site Selectors Guild released the findings of its latest membership survey titled, “How COVID-19 Is Changing Corporate Location Strategy.” The Project hosts had the chance to sit down with Jay Garner, Chair of the Site Selectors Guild and President of Garner Economics, and Rick Weddle, President & CEO of The Guild, to discuss the key findings. Listen in for insights on what percentage of projects are moving forward, industries with the most project activity and the cities best positioned to win projects, according to the world’s foremost site selection consultants.

Jun 18, 2020

With more than 150,000 employees and a market value over $1 trillion, Microsoft is one of the largest and most successful tech companies in the world. Microsoft has been in Costa Rica for over 25 years, with their operation averaging between 50-80 staff members. But, just two years ago, they made a big bet on the country, expanding to over 800 employees. To get the full story behind the decision, we spoke with Ineke Geesink, Country Manager and a native of Costa Rica, and Vanessa Gibson, Director of Investment Climate for CINDA, Costa Rica’s investment attraction agency. 

 

Apr 29, 2020

The current global health crisis is impacting every business and industry – and economic development is no exception. This week on The Project, we interview five economic development leaders from across America about how their organizations are adapting and pivoting to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and help position their communities for recovery. Listen in for insights from Chris Camacho, President and CEO of Greater Phoenix Economic Council; Susan Davenport, Chief Economic Development Officer of Greater Houston Partnership; Tim Giuliani, President and CEO of Orlando Economic Partnership; Cecilia Harry, Chief Economic Development Officer of Colorado Springs Economic Development Corporation; and Victor Hoskins, President and CEO of Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.

Apr 7, 2020

In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, restaurants and bars across North America are limited to takeout and delivery. As app-to-table dining becomes the new norm, we bring you the story of SkipTheDishes, Canada’s largest food delivery network, and its decision to establish new Canadian headquarters in Winnipeg. While the company considered other markets, including Calgary and Toronto, ultimately, its existing presence in Winnipeg went a long way to solidify the decision to stay. To get the full story, we spoke with Kevin Edwards, CEO of SkipTheDishes, and Dayna Spiring, President and CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg.

 

Mar 24, 2020

St. Johns, Michigan is a small community of just under 8,000 people. A half-billion dollar dairy processing plant is being built here by Glanbia, an Irish nutrition group with operations in 32 countries. The project is a joint venture between Glanbia and their partners Dairy Farmers of America, Select Milk Producers and Proliant Dairy Ingredients.

Expected to open in November 2020, the “Midwest Cheese” plant will employ 290 people and process 8 million pounds of milk every day.

For the company perspective, we interview Glanbia’s senior vice president John Dardis. And for a description of the dozen-plus, state and local entities that were involved in this complex project, we interview  Keith Lambert, Vice President of Business Attraction of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP).

 

 

 

Nov 26, 2019

Just in time for Thanksgiving, we bring you a particularly tasty episode. City Barbeque is an award-winning barbeque empire that began in a garage in the Columbus Region of Ohio in 1999 and has since expanded rapidly across seven states, with its 50th restaurant opening next year. In June 2019, the company announced plans to expand operations in Dublin, Ohio, creating 35 new jobs and investing nearly $1 million. To get the full story, we spoke with Rick Malir, CEO and co-founder of City Barbeque, and Rachel Ray, economic development administrator for the City of Dublin.

Sep 18, 2019

Among fast-growing companies, AML Rightsource is in a category all by itself. Over the past five years, this Cleveland-based company has grown from 35 employees to 950. Their latest expansion took them to Buffalo, New York, where the company will open an 11,000-square-foot office with plans to hire 100 people. True to the company’s fast-moving mentality, the site selection process happened at hyper-speed…in just 10 weeks. To get the full story, we spoke with Frank Ewing, the 38-year-old CEO of AML RightSource, and Alan Rosenhoch, Director of Business Development with Invest Buffalo Niagara.

 

Aug 13, 2019

According to the US-based, Solar Energy Industries Association, solar energy has experienced an average annual growth rate of 50% over the past decade. Jinko Solar, a Chinese company founded just 13 years ago in 2006, has emerged as the largest manufacturer of solar energy panels in the world. Jinko employs 13,500 people and has eight factories around the globe that produced an estimated 30 million panels in 2018. But what they didn’t have was a US manufacturing presence.

That all changed in the past year with Jinko’s decision to build a $50 million manufacturing facility in Jacksonville, Florida. For today’s story we interview Jinko Solar’s Jeff Juger, the JAXUSA Partnership’s Aaron Bowman and Florida Power & Light’s Crystal Stiles. The episode includes tales of a rain-drenched economic developer, a flat tire while traveling with the company and a Sunday morning site inspection arranged at the last minute.

Jun 10, 2019

This week we bring you the story of Sweetwater Sound, a homegrown Fort Wayne, Indiana company that started as a one-man operation in a Volkswagen bus in 1979 and has since grown to become the No. 1 online retailer of music instruments and audio gear. The company announced plans in October 2018 to invest $76 million in two new facilities at its 163-acre campus in Fort Wayne, bringing its facilities to a total of 800,000 square feet. To get the full story behind this impressive growth, we spoke to Sweetwater's visionary Founder and CEO Chuck Surack and John Urbahns, CEO of Greater Fort Wayne Inc.

 

May 28, 2019

KPMG is one of the “big four” accounting firms and has over 200,000 employees across the globe. The firm’s practice in the Greater Toronto Area was growing and needed to find a new regional headquarters. At the same time KPMG was looking for a new headquarters, the city of Vaughan had a new Mayor who was focused on building a new and vibrant central business district. To get the story, we spoke with Sebastian Distefano, regional managing partner of KPMG, and Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua, Vaughan’s mayor since 2010. 

 

May 10, 2019

 

This week, we bring you the story of Nexient, a digital product services company that was born in Silicon Valley, but has expanded rapidly across the Midwest. In March 2019, the company announced its newest center will be in Columbus, Ohio, where the company will add more than 200 jobs over the next three years. To get the full story, we spoke with Colin Chapman, Chief Delivery Officer with Nexient and Matt McQuade, Director of Business Development for Columbus 2020.

Apr 22, 2019

Last month The Project Podcast traveled to the Site Selectors Guild Annual Conference in Salt Lake City. And we conducted a series of one-on-one interviews with some of the nation’s top site selection consultants. For the second installment from the Salt Lake City meeting, we just picked out some of the most interesting takeaways from our discussions with four, different Guild consultants.

  1. Data Not Words (Darin Buelow, Deloitte Consulting LLP)
  2. Try Before You Buy Emerges in Site Selection (Larry Gigerich, Ginovus)
  3. Keep Your Money…Show Me The Training (Mike Mullis, J.M. Mullis)
  4. Talent Rules But Don’t Ignore Business Climate (Jay Garner, Garner Economics)

We cover these topics in rapid-fire approach in this 13-minute episode.

Apr 11, 2019

In the world of corporate location decision making, The Site Selectors Guild Annual Conference is a “not to be missed” event. So we took “The Project” on the road to Salt Lake City, Utah to sit down with ten Guild members for a discussion about a single topic: Talent. Here are key insights from our interviews with Darin Buelow (Deloitte Consulting LLP), Dennis Donovan (Wadley Donovan Gutshaw Consulting), Deane Foote (Foote Consulting Group), Jay Garner (Garner Economics), Larry Gigerich (Ginovus), Jeanette Goldsmith (Strategic Development Group), Chris Lloyd (McGuire Woods Consulting), Seth Martindale (CBRE), Mike Mullis (J.M. Mullis) and Rajeev Thakur (Newmark Knight Frank) all distilled into an 18-minute episode. 

Feb 20, 2019

The news that Amazon had reversed its decision to create a technology campus in Long Island City with 25,000 jobs ripped through the national media and economic development world last week. And it the wake of this extraordinary announcement, The Project Podcast had the good fortune to land an exclusive interview with Mike Grella, Amazon’s Director of Economic Development for the past seven years. Mike departed Amazon last week (completely unrelated to the HQ2 news) to launch his own consultancy. From his unique vantage point, he shared his thoughts on the future of mega-deals, incentives and site selection searches.

The Project co-host Andy Levine caught up with Mike by telephone while he was on a Caribbean cruise with his wife and family.

Jan 29, 2019

Yes, Amazon HQ2 was the big, economic development story of 2018. It was one of those rare moments when the topic of economic development actually snuck into national headlines. And on November 13th, 2018 the company finally announced its decision to locate 25,000 people in Northern Virginia and another 25,000 in New York City. 

 

“The Project” co-host Andy Levine  traveled to Richmond, Virginia to meet with a chief negotiator of this landmark project. He sat down with Stephen Moret, President and CEO of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership for a behind the scenes look at this deal.

Dec 19, 2018

Earlier this month we traveled to Nashville for the Economix Conference. It’s run by a group called Consultant Connect and a gathering of 250 economic developers and site selection consultants -- terrific content and great networking opportunities. 

One of the sessions that stood out was a presentation made by Gray Swoope of Vision First Advisors. Gray previously headed up economic development in the states of Florida, Mississippi and Arkansas. His session was titled “The Ten Big Issues of 2018.” For today’s podcast, we asked Gray to trim this down to the “Top 5 Issues” of the past year. Here’s the countdown from #5 to #1: 

5) Trade

4) Disappearing Workforce

3) Disruption

2) Incentives Under Attack 

1) Amazon HQ2

Special thanks to Gray for the chance to reflect back on the past year in economic development. 

Dec 6, 2018

The Michigan fight song and an interview with KLA-Tencor’s Chief Strategy Officer Bobby Bell is featured in this podcast. Bobby describes how the company and consulting partner Deloitte navigated a search that went from 350 locations to 12 communities to 3 finalists. And in the end, Ann Arbor, Michigan was the last location standing. The new, $70 million research and development center will house an estimated 500 positions. Ann Arbor Spark SVP Phil Santer also describes how a “trip to the big house,” the University’s fabled football stadium, helped add some color to a three-day site visit with the company’s selection team.

Nov 5, 2018

On this special episode, we interview a rare Millennial Site Consultant. John Longshore is a Senior Consultant with Global Location Strategies (GLS) out of Greenville, SC. He entered the job market during the 2008 recession with a special appreciation for what it means to create jobs and has been helping companies and communities ever since. We asked John for his take on Amazon’s public location search, the process for evaluating a community’s talent pool, his economic development marketing peeves and much more.

Oct 22, 2018

Shindigz, one of the largest dealers of party supplies in the U.S., has been based in South Whitley in Northern Indiana for 92 years. With a growing need to hire creative and digital talent, the company considered moving its headquarters and manufacturing operations out of state to Austin, Texas or the Research Triangle in North Carolina. Ultimately, Shindigz was convinced that the talent they needed was right there in Indiana, and opted to move its headquarters to downtown Fort Wayne, keeping its manufacturing operations in South Whitley. To get to the bottom of the decision, we spoke with Shep Moyle, Chairman and Co-owner of Shindigz, and John Urbahns, Executive Vice President of Economic Development at Greater Fort Wayne Inc.

Sep 18, 2018
 
According to Ben Franklin, “Energy and persistence conquers all things.” And that’s a good way to describe this story. 
 
It took three years, two trades shows, six site visits, dozens of telephone calls and probably hundreds of letters and emails. But in the end, aerospace manufacturer, Advanced Composites and Metalforming Technologies (or ACMT for short) decided to build its first new facility outside its home state of Connecticut in Bay County, Florida. ACMT is making a $20 million investment that will initially create 105 new jobs. In today’s podcast, we speak with Michael Polo, President of ACMT and Becca Hardin, President of the Bay County Economic Development Alliance.   
 
Sep 4, 2018

For this special episode, we brought together two leading thought leaders in the economic development space and put them on the phone together with “The Project” host Andy Levine in the middle. Greg LeRoy is the Executive Director/Founder of Good Jobs First. And Ron Kitchens is the CEO of Southwest Michigan First. And they both have strong opinions on the use of economic incentives past, present and future.

Looking forward, we examined the question of “What role will incentives play in America’s future?” The format involved a three-minute opening statement from Ron and Greg. This was followed with twenty minutes of discussion where we found our two participants often in agreement. And then each speaker had time for a one minute summary. Special thanks to Greg and Ron for their preparation and intelligent thinking/predictions on the direction which economic incentives will take in the years ahead.

Aug 22, 2018

This week, we bring you the story of biotech giant Amgen and their decision to establish a shared service in Tampa, Florida. To gain insight into how this world-class company makes and implements site selection decisions, we spoke with Michael Frankel, Amgen’s Executive Director and Head of Global Business Services in Tampa. For the economic development perspective, we talked to Bea Bare, Senior Business Development Executive at the Tampa Hillsborough  Economic Development Corporation.

Jul 9, 2018

Last month, the Dallas-based Site Selector Group came out with a new report that really caught our eyes here at DCI. The report was titled “Megasite Selection Deals Winning Big Incentive Packages and Tightening Labor Markets Across the United States.”  The report looked at 35 major projects – a mix of new location and expansions – that have taken place in recent years. These projects involved big job numbers (generally 1,000 or more new positions) and well-known companies (Facebook, State Farm, USAA, Adobe Systems, Apple, Liberty Mutual and Salesforce). We wanted to know more about the report so we invited the Site Selection Group’s Executive Vice President Brett Bayduss to sit down with us in our New York City offices. 

 

Jun 25, 2018

This week we bring you the story of DXC Technology, one of the world's largest technology companies, which announced plans in November 2017 to open a Digital Transformation Center in New Orleans. It was reported that New Orleans beat out 30 other communities to win this latest project, which involves bringing 2,000 jobs to the city over the next six years. Key to the decision was collaboration with local higher education institutions, in particular an innovative apprenticeship program piloted by GE and the University of New Orleans. To get the full story, we talk to Terrell Boynton, Director & General Manager of the New Orleans Digital Transformation Center at DXC Technology, and Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc.

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