Huntsville, Alabama has a lot to celebrate. It was recently selected as the site for the new Polaris plant, which will generate up to 2,000 jobs and create a ripple effect that will boost the area’s economy. Huntsville’s Mayor, Tommy Battle, jokingly suggested it was a plate of exceptional barbecue ribs that clinched the high-stakes deal. SSOE’s Alexandra Segers stands by the full story. Polaris selected her from a field of qualified candidates to conduct the site selection process — beginning to end. Alexandra considers this one of the fastest site selection processes of this magnitude she’s ever conducted. To put that in context, she has more than 15 years of experience helping major corporations find the best sites worldwide.
Alexandra had a broad spectrum of criteria to identify, an RFP to create and responses to evaluate, and cost models to develop. To start, she created a grid listing requirements for the site, the surrounding area, and other relevant issues including the quality of life, utility costs, availability of qualified work force, and dozens more. The process would entail comparing one set of advantages to another. For example, Polaris preferred this plant be located in a right-to-work state, but needed to balance that against a logistical drawback: most of its suppliers are located in northern states.
Alexandra explains, “Polaris wanted to be very inclusive in its search, so we sent the site selection RFP to 14 states (union as well as right-to-work states) and received proposals for 150 sites. After evaluating the responses, our short list totaled eight sites in four states. Once we visited those locations, we were able to narrow the contenders to three sites, each in a different state. Then we were ready to negotiate incentives.”
Among the advantages that put the Huntsville, Alabama site on top was its proximity to the interstate and the Huntsville airport, acreage available for further expansions, good soil conditions, lack of environmental issues, sufficient access to utilities, availability of skilled labor, and a highly professional team of local and state government officials.
And there was that plate of barbecue ribs.
For more information on SSOE’s site selection services, click here. To read more features from SSOE Field Reports, our recent mailer highlighting activity on all levels at SSOE Group, visit www.ssoe.com/spring2015.