Many people do not know that a large automobile manufacturer has hundreds, sometimes thousands, of subcontractors they use for everything from supplying the lug nuts for the wheels to creating the computer chips that make a new car energy efficient and meets regulatory emission standards. Every business will have a number of connections it needs to reduce costs, make the creation of a product or service simpler, and meet legal requirements. For example, every new business needs an accountant and a business attorney available to function normally.
When discussing the future of a town’s business community, it is critical it is able to identify business trends that will change the landscape of an industry and prepare to attract new businesses to the area. Expanding corporations often are an excellent target because they are looking in areas that have not been (over)populated with employees looking for just a job, but a locale that will only attract employees that are willing to grow with the company, and go where they are needed.
Identifying these growing industries early is critical for two major reasons. The first is that towns being considered to expand to are under consideration long before the issue is made public. The second reason is that a town can begin to prepare its people for the future opportunities and become a part of the business expansion.
A closer look at the first reason is essential to proper planning. A town must analyze the industries suitable for its location and resources. Opening a Walmart in a small town may appeal to local residents, but the store must have an adequate supply of low cost labor and a transportation infrastructure that will allow for the efficient and low cost delivery of its products. If these are not present, spending resources on pursuing an expanding Walmart business will be wasted. A sufficient and reliable power grid also must be available for the expanding business to be successful.
In contrast, a town that has abundant land and an acceptable power grid may be ideal for an expanding business looking to relocate its headquarters. Open spaces and reduced traffic congestion are significant advantages for companies who are looking to escape from its own success achieved in the dense populations of urban areas. However, a location near a large airport is likely a resource an international business would deem a necessity.
These are the more obvious options for a town to look at, but there may be hidden resources that would make a town particularly appealing to an expanding business. Every town must take the time to examine all of its resources that have the potential to attract an expanding business and connect them to a specific industry. Then a continuous analysis of that industry needs to be performed to identify future opportunities.
People are the most important resource a town can offer an expanding business. If the town is aware of the future potential for a specific industry, it can prepare the residents for employment through education and training programs that have marketable skills. Oftentimes towns lose their most valuable commodity – future generations – as children leave the town for higher salaries and greater educational opportunities. But the type of training and education to be made available does not have to be high tech or require an MBA.
Tim Allen, CEO of Apple Computer, was asked why the internationally popular iPhone was not primarily manufactured in the United States. He answered by saying that there were not a sufficient number of trained and qualified American workers who had the trade skills to assemble the phones. Whether you believe him or not, making the case that there is an overemphasis on getting a college degree and believing that learning a trade limits your income potential is not unreasonable. Working with expanding companies may provide the opportunity to develop the skills of residents to immediately begin working upon a business moving into the area.