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 Feature Industry Articles 
Tuesday, April 02 2019
Shovel Ready and Certified Sites Add Long-Term Success for Companies

By Lisa A. Bastian, President, Bastian PR

As time slices through 2019, shovel-ready or "certified" site programs of all kinds continue to be key economic development tools fast-tracking the creation (or expansion) of manufacturing or industrial facilities for America's corporate citizens. When done right, these programs don't discriminate by size, but have proven to add long-term value and an attractiveness cachet to both communities large and small.

Typically these sites are certified by either their home states and/or by an outside consulting firm retained by the states and the communities housing the sites. They are prepared and marketed to be either an industrial site ready for a distribution, warehousing or manufacturing or a research/technology park site, suitable for R&D science and technology type organizations and related support companies.

While factors vary, in general shovel-ready properties are promoted as land that has had its planning, surveys, zoning, title work, soil analysis, public infrastructure engineering and related work completed before becoming officially certified. Environmental clearance is especially vital to this process. Before that can be achieved, usually studies are conducted to focus on archeological, geotechnical, endangered species, wetlands, historical and/or other related environmental concerns.

Posted by: AT 11:08 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, January 10 2018
The Benefits of a

By Lisa A. Bastian, President, Bastian PR

In this brave new world of two-day delivery being the norm for online purchases, it seems people expect speedy delivery of just about everything that affects their personal and professional lives. 

In the economic development world, that idea is somewhat embodied in the increasingly popular concept of "shovel-ready" sites available to relocating and expanding businesses. After all, time is money. And if a site is ready to roll now for development to meet production timelines, without the need to wait months for loads of research, what's not to love about that?

But the devil is in the details. The definition of what makes one site "ready to go" in one state can differ in another state. Typically a shovel-ready site is one whose ownership is clearly established and is ready for development, and is currently – or could be quickly – serviced by local utilities and infrastructure. 

Posted by: AT 09:15 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, September 14 2016
Marketing Your Certified Site

By Beth Land, Consultant and Mark Sweeney, Senior Principal of McCallum Sweeney Consulting

Companies continue to put pressure on the time allowed to make a location decision and get their product to market. At the same time, a pervasive problem across the country in economic development is a shortage in available quality industrial sites and buildings. The combination of these two problems have increased the importance for communities to be prepared with fully-vetted, fully-served, available industrial properties. By completing substantial amounts of due diligence and prep work ahead of time, it puts the community at a competitive advantage to meet a company’s demanding schedule and land a project. 

This concept is not new. Roughly half of the states have some level of a site certification program. In addition, rail and utility providers have created programs to produce more competitive properties in their service territory. Communities and individual property owners are seeing the value in completing certification to attract prospects. However, the era of ‘build it and they will come’ is over. Ten years ago, having a certified property was an anomaly and enough to set a community apart from the competition. Now communities everywhere are actively developing a portfolio of industrial properties. Certified sites that can be given at little to no costs to companies have almost become expected in the site selection process. So the question no longer is, should I prepare a certified site? The question should be, now that I have a certified site, what should I do to actively market the property? Before marketing is addressed, we will try to define a certified site.  

Posted by: AT 10:22 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, September 23 2015
The Benefits of a Shovel Ready Site

Shovel ready sites can give communities seeking to attract distributors and manufacturers a strong competitive advantage. Shovel ready sites are designated locations primed for economic development, allowing companies to break ground rather than first having to address planning, zoning, infrastructural engineering, and other regulations that typically must be checked off before labor can be deployed on the site. 

Iowa is turning into a leader for shovel ready sites, with seven counties participating in a Shovel Ready Certification Program that certifies projects as shovel ready and puts them into a local, regional and statewide inventory that is strongly marketed to prospective clients. In July, the state’s governor, Terry Branstad, announced six new shovel ready sites. One of the sites, the Marion Enterprise Center, received $5.5 million from Marion to build roads, sewers and other infrastructural shovel-ready amenities. The state of Iowa recently certified a yet unnamed “super park” of 582 acres shovel ready for agriculture, aviation, industrial and public projects in Cedar Rapids. 

What qualifies as a shovel ready can vary by jurisdiction, but if standards are too low and in the end inconvenience or delay the aims of businesses, it can damage a community’s ability to attract future capital investment. In Tennessee, a site must have at least 20 acres ready for development, adhere to zoning standards that allow for straightforward development, have utilities that extend to the site and road access of a quality that can handle trucks. Many states observe similar standards. 

Posted by: AT 12:27 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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