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LVEDC Representatives Attended Leading Economic Development Forum

By Colin McEvoy on June 2, 2015

LVEDC representatives attended the 19th annual Area Development Consultants Forum in Philadelphia.

LVEDC representatives attended the 19th annual Area Development Consultants Forum in Philadelphia.

To help ensure our region is best positioned to grow, representatives from the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) have attended one of the nation’s leading economic development forums.

The 19th annual Area Development Consultants Forum, which ran from May 31 to June 2 in Philadelphia, featured a full program of presentations, roundtable discussions, and panels about what will impact the site selection process throughout 2015 and beyond.

Organized by Area Development, the leading executive magazine covering corporate site selection and relocation, the forum program was highly concentrated and designed to focus on subjects and issues that will help create a robust, effective economic development strategy.

“It was extremely worthwhile to hear directly from industry experts about the critical issues, strategies and practices needed for a successful economic development strategy,” said Lea B. Glembot, LVEDC’s Vice President of Economic Development and Marketing. “The sessions were very informative, and equally valuable were the networking opportunities that allowed us to connect with the site selectors themselves.”

Glembot attended the forum along with LVEDC Director of Marketing Michael Keller and Director of Communications Colin McEvoy.

LVEDC is committed to continuing the ongoing professional development of its staff, to ensure the organization has experts in their respective fields delivering results that meet or exceed the expectations of its customers and stakeholders, and are utilizing the most efficient systems of recording and producing quality research.

The forum included such topics as domestic manufacturing location strategies, reshoring, attracting the millennial workforce, labor analytics incentive strategies, and recruiting data centers. Among the forum’s speakers were representatives from Site Selection Group, JLL, Cushman & Wakefield, EY, Hickey & Associates, CBRE, FastFacility, KPMG, Savills Studley, and the Reshoring Institute.

Speaker Josh Bays, principal with Site Selection Group, said the pace of change in global manufacturing is more rapid now than ever before, and that the United States is poised to capitalize on the activity shifting away from its traditional international. Labor availability is the biggest factor in terms of domestic site selection, Bays said, and is a challenge virtually every community is facing. Corporations are starting to understand that workforce development will be necessary to at least some degree no matter where they go, he said.

“Companies will pay a premium to find talent, because talent is very difficult to find,” Bays said. “Just about anywhere, you have to develop talent. That’s a long-term fix, and it’s not going away.”

Another speaker, Erica Bubes Ruder, senior consultant for global business consulting at Cushman & Wakefield, dicussed the millennial work force, which at 53.5 million has surpassed Generation Xers (52.7 million) in the national workforce. They currently make up about 40 percent of the workforce, and it is estimated they will make up 75 percent by 2025. Ruder said millennials thrive on competition, value new experiences, and are constantly searching for a sense of purpose, more so than any generation before them.

“The stereotype is that millennials are job-hoppers, moving from company to company, but that’s a little deceiving,” Ruder said. “They don’t leave because they want to work for new companies. They want experiences and opporutnities, and they’re just as likely to go to a new opportunity with the same firm. Companies can attract millentials by offering those news experiences.”

When it comes to attracting the millennial generation, the three most important factors they consider when choosing a place to live are accessibility, cultural amenities and affordability, Ruder said. She suggested communities invest in public transportation (millennials are less dependant on cars than past generations), partner with local universities to develop incubators (millennial career goals often involve starting their own businesses) and repurposing suburban office campuses into 24/7 communities with an urban vibe.

Rosemary Coates, executive director of the Reshoring Institute, discussed reshoring, the process of bringing manufacturing and other jobs that were previously offshored back to America. Companies are increasingly reshoring due to such factors as maturing supply chain management strategies, improved technology in the United States, fluctuating oil prices resulting in changed international freight costs, and a mood shift in America in which consumers are willing to buy slightly more expensive products if they were made in America.

Coates said 54 percent of U.S. manufacturers with annual sales greater than $1 billion say they are considering reshoring. Since 2003, new offshoring is down 70 to 80 percent, while reshoring is up 1500 percent.

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