02/06/04 — Old news: How should we react to site selectors’ rankings?

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Old news: How should we react to site selectors’ rankings?

Those of us who were surprised by Wayne County’s good news this week shouldn’t have been.

The good news was that the county’s magnetism is getting widespread recognition. Research by Expansion Magazine ranks Goldsboro 36th in the country in allure for the relocation or expansion of businesses.

The magazine is read by the consultants who advise businesses and industries about locations, and by executives of the businesses themselves.

They give credibility to the rankings because it is not the magazine itself that makes them. Instead, Expansion surveys 70 of the country’s most prominent site-selection consultants to find out which cities look best.

These consultants are an essential component in business recruitment. Few industries are moving from state to state as they were in the early days of industry-hunting. Many of them go outside the country when they change the location of their manufacturing plants. But those who wish to stay in the country, or companies starting new operations, rely heavily on the site-selection consultants.

Hence, the importance of their opinion of a community.

If 36 doesn’t sound like a high ranking for Wayne County, consider this: The list, called “America’s Hottest Cities,” contained 370 markets. Wayne is in the top 10 percent.

That shouldn’t be a surprise to those of us who have enjoyed living here for many years. The Economic Development Commission can tout the county’s friendly business atmosphere, its proximity to international freight transportation by sea and air, its industrial parks and shell buildings, its two private airports, its climate, its six golf courses, its skilled work force — the list goes on. But there is an intangible aspect, too. People who live here make it an easy place to move into. It’s a friendly community, one that knows no strangers.

You might wonder whether the site-selection consultants consider such things, or whether they even know it. Either way, it matters, because it is important to the businesses that are already here. Retaining them, and making expansion as easy as possible for them, has become a vital part of the EDC’s mission.

A statistic quoted by the EDC president, Joanna Thompson, illustrates the significance of it. She noted that in the last 10 years, while manufacturing employment has been declining, Wayne County has not had a net loss of a single job. For every position lost at one company, at least one position was created at other companies.

All this good news should be kept at the top of our minds. It enhances our appreciation of our hometown, which helps to feed our own satisfaction and good will.

If you’re blessed, enjoy it.

Published in Editorials on February 6, 2004 12:04 PM