Recruiting business to a community a difficult process

Apr 19 2012 - 9:11pm

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Steve Curtis
Steve Curtis

There have been a variety of businesses that have established their corporate footprint in the state in recent years.

Included in this cluster are companies such as eBay, Goldman-Sachs, Procter & Gamble, Janicki Industries and KIHOMAC, along with the expansions of ATK and Futura Industries.

Local, county and state officials receive numerous questions concerning the recruitment process and the accounting of taxpayer dollars spent to attract companies.

Recruiting business to a community is a difficult process that involves a significant amount of time, research and negotiations that result in a simple choice by those being recruited.

Every company is unique in what it is looking for in a business expansion or a relocation effort. The needs of a Fortune 500 company, for instance, are substantially different than those of a small business.

Generally, though, companies want to know about the workforce, the real estate that is available, the kind of incentives being offered (either a direct monetary gift or tax base enticements) and information about local and state regulations.

The potential workforce is key to the needs of businesses considering a new location. Employees are the lifeblood of any business. One of the greatest assets in Utah is a well-educated and diverse labor pool.

A substantial amount of time and effort during the recruitment processes is spent answering questions regarding the workforce. These questions often focus on, but are not limited to, education levels and training programs.

Emphasis is also placed on the reliability and work ethic of the employable personnel. It is a recognizable fact that the Utah labor force is extraordinary, the state's secret weapon when it comes to recruitment.

Government has the responsibility to ensure that the regulatory environment is easy for businesses to operate in while protecting their stewardship. Gov. Gary Herbert has often stressed that "we should be off the backs of businesses and out of their wallets" when applying directional regulations.

The duty of local elected officials and their staff of economic development personnel is to juggle the viability and prudent fiscal outcome of what these companies are asking for. They are not a broker, but a facilitator.

All of a company's questions need to be answered and attempts made to meet its needs.

In the end, communities are strengthened as private capital is invested. Jobs are created, economies are sustained, and a multiplier effect helps other local industries.

Steve Curtis has worked as a business consultant and communication specialist. He is currently mayor of Layton. He can be reached at scurtis@laytoncity.org

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