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Site Location Assistance

Site Location Assistance

A step by step guide to finding the right site


We will help you find a site or facility in our Minnesota service area that meets your specific criteria.

We have access to the most up-to-date databases listing hundreds of buildings and sites suitable for light industrial, manufacturing, warehouse or wholesale trade firms.

Send us preliminary information about your project, and we will provide a customized listing of buildings and land that meets your needs -- at no cost to you. (Note:  Use econdev in the subject line of your e-mail to us.)

Use the six-step guide below to assist you in the selection process and help you identify your company's needs, collect data, and evaluate locations.

1. Getting Started

Choose internal site selection team: Select a team that involves many parts of the organization. Teams typically consist of representatives from IT, Operations, Tax, Environmental, Human Resources, Finance, Legal, Real Estate.

Evaluate Current Facilities: Conduct an in-depth evaluation of your current facilities to help you decide if an on-site expansion is feasible. If not, the information can help you determine needs for your new facility. Decide whether you will purchase, build or lease space.

Establish Timetable: There is no prescribed amount of time to complete this process. In general, a search for an existing building will not take as long as new construction, so the type of facility has some bearing on the length of time required. If your company decides to build a new facility, work backward from the desired plant start-up date to determine how much time is available for site selection. Leave at least six to eight months from the beginning of the site selection effort for property acquisition. Many companies start the process 18 to 24 months prior to the desired move-in date.

Develop Confidentiality Plan: One of the first decisions for the site selection team is confidentiality, both internal and external. If a facility relocation may result in lost jobs or employee transfers, carefully consider the best time to disclose plans for the move. External knowledge of your move can result in corporate competition, rising land and building prices and numerous calls from communities that are not being considered.

2. Defining Your Needs

Conduct Needs Analysis: The goal of this step is to clearly define project requirements. What are the business needs that are driving this move? What are the broad qualities an area must have to be considered? What are specific facility requirements? Availability of both skilled and unskilled workers is often a key consideration. Other considerations would be transportation, utilities, tax and regulatory climate, quality of life factors and financial resources.

Prioritize Needs: Each team member should develop a list of important factors needed for a successful location. Consider only those factors that vary geographically. Prioritize needs to distinguish between those that are critical vs. highly desirable.

Establish Preliminary Factors: Once you have identified critical factors that will drive the location decision, select critical characteristics that can easily be determined for most communities. This will help you quickly choose or eliminate candidate communities.

3. Collecting Data

Identify Search Area: The objective of this step is to identify favorable areas, ones that broadly meet your company's requirements.

Establish Economic Development and Financial Contacts: You can get no-cost site selection services from economic development professionals at Xcel Energy and at many state, regional and local economic development organizations. If you have narrowed your search to one geographical area, you may be able to find one person to act as your primary resource. The economic development professional can act as intermediaries with prospective communities, maintaining confidentiality. They also may be able to recommend financial resources in the communities you are considering.

Choose Preliminary Communities: The objective of this step is to determine the community and specific land or site that best satisfy the operating requirements of your proposed facility. Narrow the field to six to eight communities before contacting individual communities. Selection of candidate communities is based on your company's preliminary factors identified in Step 2.

Request Information: much of the data you need is available from state and local economic development organizations via the Internet. Many individual communities have web sites of their own that will give you specific information regarding infrastructure, other businesses located within the community and permitting requirements. Care should be given to ensure that data are uniform and comparable from region to region or state to state. Design spreadsheets around preliminary factors identified in Step 2.

4. Evaluating Locations

Develop an Evaluation Process: Using the criteria you established earlier in the process, develop an evaluation form that lists your company's important site selection factors. You may wish to assign weights to those factors that are critical.

Evaluate Communities: Using the evaluation forms, rate each community on each factor. You may wish to rate all the critical factors first, and only continue with those communities who achieve an acceptable rating on all critical factors. To make comparisons between communities, create a matrix listing the top communities on one axis and your critical factors on the other.

Select Communities for Site Visits: The number of sites you visit depends on how many communities closely match your needs and the amount of time you have to tour and reevaluate. Available buildings meeting basic requirements may also be a factor in screening communities.

Plan and Conduct Site Visits: Site visits are an opportunity to check facts, meet community leaders, inspect and evaluate the industrial properties, and get a better feel for such intangible factors such as business climate and quality of life. Your economic development professional can help you plan and conduct tours. Typical community visit agenda includes community orientation, meeting with utility companies, site visits, and meeting with education and training professionals.

5. Further Evaluation

After more detailed meetings with communities, using critical and highly desirable factors, narrow your search to the top two to three candidate sites. Complete a comparative cost analysis of one-time costs and annual operating costs including those that are expected to change from site to site.

Conduct Preliminary Environmental Review: It is wise to do a quick environmental review of your top sites. Because of the potential liability you will probably want to hire an environmental consultant.

Select a Site: One site may emerge as the leader in the ratings made by team members. If two sites seem "equally favorable, "which has the potential to meet future expansion needs? Consider things such as size of site and community infrastructure.

6. Closing the Deal

Option the Site: Keep your decision confidential until the land is optioned, or prices can increase. Make sure the option allows access to the property for further analysis. Typically, the option amount ranges from a nominal amount for a short, initial option period to no more than 1 percent of the site's value for extended periods.

Perform Final Site Analysis: This is the final, technical review of the site, including soil analysis and core boring. It should also include a complete environmental evaluation, which generally takes about 1 1/2-2 months.

Finalize Finance Package: Although final financing will take place at this stage, preliminary contacts with the local lending community, port authority, state or community economic development agency, or venture capitalists will need to be made earlier in the process.

Secure Permits: Work with the local community planner to determine what building or environmental permits you need. Permitting generally needs to be completed before any construction begins.

Finalize Contract: It may be wise to consult with a local lawyer familiar with any local regulations that may have an impact on your contract.

Prepare for Move: This step in the process is a lengthy one that varies widely depending on individual circumstances. Constructing a new building in most cases will take more time than moving into an existing facility. You may want to appoint a separate team to work on site preparation and moving issues.

Move In: If you establish separate site selection and moving teams, it is important for them to establish a cooperative relationship and good communication. By working together, the two teams can make site selection and moving go as smoothly as possible.

For more information, contact:

Director, Community Relations
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