Economic Development News
"Persistence" key to business attraction
A "Tale of Two Projects"
Published: Monday, November 17, 2014
By: Missy Bonnot, Director, Economic Development
“Persistence is the quality that allows someone to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult.” (Merriam-Webster)
I recently had the great opportunity to speak to a local civic organization about working Business Attraction projects and to discuss in more detail two projects the Chamber worked over the summer.
At the end of my presentation, a former state representative commented to me, “Missy, how do you not have grey hair working these projects?” My initial reply was “I do go see a local salon on a regular basis.” My second response was “You have to be persistent and know the more consultants/companies that take a look at Jefferson City, the higher our odds that a company will locate here!”
I think Webster was thinking about Business Attraction when he wrote the definition of “persistent” - continuing to do something or to try to do something even though it is difficult.
Projects come to me with a code name so the name of the company will be confidential. I have worked a few projects in the past and didn’t know the name of the company until up to a year later.
This summer we had the pleasure of hosting two separate companies considering locating in Jefferson City.
We started working with Project Aluminum in April and initially all we knew about them was they were an aluminum recycling plant. They were looking for 75,600 square feet of existing space and they were going to create 233 jobs. The company was going to invest $51.1 million in the building, land and equipment.
Initially, we completed a Request for Information that was very comprehensive, from utility information to workforce data; they wanted to know a lot about our community. The building we submitted to them was the 50,000 spec building the Chamber owns in the Partnership Business Park.
The Chamber built the spec building several years ago as a shell building. A shell building will allow a company to finish out and customize the space according to their manufacturing process and needs.
After reviewing information from 10 communities in Missouri and many other communities in four other states, we assumed the company was evaluating about 50 communities total in a five state area. In July, we were notified the company was going to make a site visit to Jefferson City!
We put our Economic Development Team together which includes the Mayor, Presiding Commissioner and several utility and building experts. Six company officials came to Jefferson City and we were given a two hour window of time with them, focusing on the proposed building and infrastructure.
We showed them a great building that could be customized to their needs and we had a great plan to get them into the building according to their timeline. In the next few days, the company continued touring other communities and buildings in Missouri and other states.
In about a week, we were contacted and learned Jefferson City was eliminated from their search. The reason was based on their due diligence it would be costly for them to finish out the building to their specifications and when they expanded the building they feared they would be land locked to make any additional expansions in the future.
We were disappointed to be eliminated after much hard work, but we knew we were still in the running for Project Osaka who had just visited our community nine days prior.
Project Osaka was a quick project! We submitted a lengthy RFI to them one week and the next week they were visiting Jefferson City. They brought three company officials with them and this project was much larger. They were looking for 250 acres and would employ up to 1200 people and invest $100 million into the community they selected.
Again, we showed the company land in our Industrial Park and we thought it would be a good fit for their manufacturing facility.
However, six days after we were eliminated from Project Aluminum, we learned we were eliminated from Project Osaka. The reason provided to us was it would be too costly to add necessary infrastructure and the site lacked visibility.
Both projects are still looking at Missouri with Lee’s Summit being a finalist for Project Osaka and Fulton a finalist for Project Aluminum. Our hope is both of these projects will land in Missouri creating thousands of jobs for our state.
So, I am on to Project Indigo! Two weeks ago we submitted Jefferson City information to a Life Science manufacturer and we are hopeful the company will be visiting our community soon and it will be a good fit for both Jefferson City and the company.