On July 9, 2019, 200 members of the region's real estate development community gathered to network, talk to 18 exhibiting companies and economic development organizations, and listen to five national site selectors brought to Cleveland to coincide with Major League Baseball's All-Star Game. The event was kicked off with a visit and welcome by Governor Mike DeWine.
The site selectors reiterated what we have been hearing for years in our business outreach, that workforce is a primary driver of site selection, and regions that make themselves attractive to workers are doing a better job of attracting business investment. While infrastructure is a key determinant of site selection--all types of infrastructure should be supported and maintained, with the possible pre-eminence of broad-based broadband access--the limiting factor in a search is often a region's ability to present truly-ready and large (in some cases 200-300 acres) sites for development. Rounding out the top list of factors: while air service options in Cleveland are better than many of our peer regions' airports, nonstop air service ranges from absolutely critical in headquarters considerations, to very important in most other operations.
Aside from these top factors, regions do well that have a single and easily-accessible point of contact and a fast-tracking process that includes all relevant players. Access to current, massageable demographic data like commute times and workforce availability also helps differentiate regions. The site selectors appreciated innovative programs like worker relocation incentives in some regions, and expressed an interest in Cuyahoga County's efforts to create an electrical microgrid in Downtown Cleveland to achieve energy reliability and resiliency, which are key to many of their clients.
The Forum was organized by the Northern Ohio chapter of NAIOP, the commercial real estate development association. Co-Chairs included Vince Adamus of the Greater Cleveland Partnership and Amy Whitacre of First American National Commercial Services, with Tucker Ellis LLP as the primary event sponsor. The site selectors were brought to Cleveland to take advantage of Major League Baseball's All-Star Game by a partnership of Team NEO, Greater Cleveland Partnership, and Downtown Cleveland Alliance, with significant funding from Amazon Web Services and JobsOhio.