Dennis J Donovan is responsible for worldwide site selection services at Wadley-Donovan-Gutshaw Consulting. At WDG Consulting, Dennis’ responsibilities include service innovation, client relations, location strategy consulting, advising engagement managers/project consultants, and integrating strategic alliance partner capabilities for clients seeking turnkey services. Dennis has a leadership position in CoreNet Global. He created and teaches the organization’s site selection course both for certification and professional development. Additionally, Dennis was a member of CoreNet’s 2010 Strategy of Place Task Force, which assessed future trends in the design and execution of global location strategy. Dennis has authored numerous articles and is frequently quoted in the trade and general business media on emerging corporate location trends. He often speaks on the subject and teaches the basics of economic development.
Target Industry Marketing
Target industries comprise a vital component of economic development and hence quality job creation. Unfortunately, I do not see much in the way of uniqueness in target industry marketing.
Far too many communities and states assert that they are distinctly positive for the same industry groups. Most common are advanced mfg. (which is usually not well defined), biotech, alt/green energy, and aerospace. With so many Economic Development Organizations (EDOs) chasing the same broad targets it is nearly impossible to achieve brand recognition, which should be a major objective in target industry selling. In addition, few EDOs seem to truly understand the site selection essentials for locating target industry operations.
Seldom do we see a succinct quantification of an area’s resource base for the industry. This would include a detailed listing of companies (by industry and function), number of skill sets by pertinent occupation, annual college grads by discipline, schematic of training strategy from HS thru college, why certain sites/buildings are well suited for the industries, firms that have been grown from local startup programs, favorable aspects of tax policy/rates for the industry, how incentives benefit the industry, and a summary of the local support vendor network.
From a customer standpoint I need to be convinced as to why an area is uniquely qualified as a location for the industry. To do this I suggest scrapping the general categories such as advanced mfg and focus on sub industry segments (e.g., packaging in advanced mfg) that will make your area standout. Of course, you then must prove what makes your area an optimal choice for new companies in the industry.
Lastly, the biotech frenzy is also a pet peeve. It is impossible for hundreds of locations to be viable capital investment candidates for this industry. Critical mass helps determine which subsets of the industry an area can accommodate. If an area does not have much critical mass the effort should be much more on gardening and cultivation as opposed to hunting. Again, define what industry subsets (e.g. clinical research) are best suited for the area. Labeling an area as attractive for biotech doesn’t cut it. It is both too broad and too generic.
There are a few metros and states who have broken the mold in target industry effectiveness. But as I see it, resources are being squandered when so many areas are laying claim to the same thing. I urge that the whole approach be rethought so that when you market an area to a specific audience it will resonate and give your location a lasting brand image/reputation.