By Michael Haley
Earlier this month, I attended the Consultants Forum Executive Summit organized by Area Development. The summit brings together 20 top site selection consultants nationwide and 30 of my peers in economic development.
It was an intense but productive schedule. The summit covered various topics, from a 2024 forecast of industrial property to infrastructure and talent pipeline. I came away with four high-level takeaways.
1. Turn up every dial! The complexity of economic development projects must be met with intensity. Today, Wake County Economic Development fields more complex projects than ever before. This complexity takes the form of large energy requirements, extremely short timelines, and high demand for speed to market. This requires WCED to work even harder to solve new challenges—something we excel in.
2. Industrial property remains in demand, particularly warehouse space. This is primarily because of the acceleration of online consumer spending—which will soon account for 34% of total expenditure. In addition, consultants expect continued growth in electric vehicle manufacturing, life sciences, and semiconductor manufacturing and the associated supply chains.
3. Office projects are on the horizon. Companies are asking site selection consultants where their offices should grow and are developing strategies and decision matrices to aid their determination. When meeting with site selection consultants in NYC earlier this year, my colleagues Ashley Cagle and Kyle Touchstone heard the same feedback.
4. Sustainability and Diversity are important considerations. For many companies, sustainability and DEI are important parts of their overall business strategy and the site selection process. I spoke with several site selection consultants; I was told how far ahead WCED is in promoting sustainability efforts like the Business Sustainability Roundtable and the economic mobility work of the Triangle DEI Alliance.
Why do we attend events like this? First and foremost, it’s to learn about emerging trends and network with site selection consultants. These gatherings allow us to highlight everything going on in Wake County and outline our competitive advantages. To be in a position of strength (like we are), we can’t be complacent. Onward!