I am reaching out to provide an update on GOED's site selection outreach this year, as well as share some key takeaways and insights. Additionally, I would like to offer a glimpse into what we can expect in the upcoming year.
First, I’ll share a bit about our initial trip and engagement in Chicago. We had a team of nine, comprised of EDOs, utility partners, and GOED staff. We met with six different site selection groups. Our goal was to sit down with individuals to introduce South Dakota and begin forging relationships. These conversations helped site selection consultants better understand the South Dakota landscape from utility requirements, permitting processes, and potential incentives for projects. In return, we tried to understand the needs of the site selection consultants as they work with their clients. Overall, we felt this was a successful first trip and we’re excited to share some tips we learned from these meetings.
1. If a member of your staff is responsible for working with a targeted industry, they should become an expert in that industry. As an example, if your community is targeting value-added agriculture, your team member should dig in and learn the details of value-added ag. Site selectors will appreciate someone who has invested in themselves and become more proficient in an industry compared to other economic developers. They want to cut to the chase so tell them you are the expert on your team.
2. RFI responses from South Dakota communities have stood out to site selection consultants. That is great news! However, they encouraged us to continue to work closely with all South Dakota partners to continually improve our RFI responses. For example, with any particular electric, natural gas, or other utility requirement, do we understand the ramifications of the requirement at a state, regional, and local level? Is it a big ask? Do we fully understand what they need? Do we understand how to reassure the site selector that the utility requirements can be met?
3. Site selection consultants appreciate the time to talk business, but they also want to build personal relationships. They may be spending a significant amount of time with us. They will also need to rely on our expertise. A good relationship is key to a successful partnership!
4. We all like to hear specific examples of successful projects and what helped them move forward. Site selectors like to hear these things too. When communicating through newsletters or other periodic correspondence, be sure to include specific examples of how hurdles or obstacles were overcome so that a project could be successful. This will set you apart from other states and regions.
5. When working with an international prospect through a site selector, find out the country they are based in. Then research the culture and how business is conducted in that country. This will allow you to properly tailor your approach. As an example, in several European countries, it is a difficult and time-consuming process to cut down trees on a parcel of land to get it ready for development. If the parcel you have available is full of trees, you’ll need to reassure the company that this won’t be a problem or take extra time to find a solution.
In 2024, GOED is looking to keep the pedal down on our outreach to site selectors. It is our goal to have two site selector trips each year. We are tentatively planning trips in late spring and early fall. We would like to continue to work with our partners to have a well-rounded team from South Dakota. We know that it takes a team effort, and we recognize you are key partners in this process.
Lastly, we are exploring the potential of hosting key site selectors in South Dakota. This would give us the chance to show them some of the potential sites, learn more about our business environment, and tour some innovative and growing companies. Most importantly, it would give the site selectors the chance to meet the people of South Dakota, which is our greatest asset.
If you are interested being a part of our site selector outreach in 2024, I would encourage you to reach out to one of our Partner Relations Representatives to discuss the opportunities that may be available.
Thanks for all you do and Happy Holidays!