Everyone in the economic development profession fully understands that being prepared for prospects’ inquiries is the essential component of the practice. Few organizations, however, are going to be prepared for the scale of opportunity and the response effort associated with a major headquarters location decision process.
The ultimate successful bid will eventually provide the hard evidence of a well prepared submittal package, but even this may not tell the entire story, because certain fundamental attributes desired by the prospect will weigh heavily on the actual decision, and these attributes may or may not be optimally presented in the submittal.
Meanwhile, communities will do well to anticipate what they can do to expedite another such opportunity, which can also provide an excuse for enhancing general economic development preparedness. The outline presented below is intended to help focus such deliberations.
Show stakeholder commitment
ED organizations typically default to confidentiality when dealing with major prospects, which is understandable given that this is a common preference of such prospects. However, a publicly announced location decision opens the door to widespread involvement in a submittal, with the advantages of:
Demonstrating broad support
Maximizing the potential for garnering good ideas, identifying cross-organizational synergies, and the like
Increasing the base of support for economic development in general
Increasing the potential of a successful bid subsequently receiving the appropriate local follow-through.
Nearly every organization can benefit from updated data and fresh messaging about the community, so any excuse to do this can be welcomed.
Compelling stories demonstrating pride in a unique place
If strategic plans can benefit from updating, this is an additional argument for such an exercise, and the concept of responding to a headquarters-location request can help focus discussions, attract additional stakeholders, and otherwise enhance the process. Ideally, stakeholders can be motivated to share their inspirations about life and work in their community.
By packaging and presenting data beyond the scale of the community/region, and including competitive areas, a locality can potentially take control of a portion of the competitive analysis, at minimal cost.