Orange County Partnership - News

Prevailing Investment Trends and Deal Breakers Post COVID

By Maureen Halahan

I recently returned from the 2021 Site Selectors Guild Annual Conference and without question, it was refreshing to witness a sell-out crowd of mask-less, motivated and focused site-selectors and economic development professionals from across the country. The last time we met was in March of 2020, just seven days prior to the COVID-19 shut-down and while we virtually met throughout the pause, this was markedly different.


There was a feeling of appreciation and commitment to the industry, and in all the years I have represented Orange County and New York State at these conferences, by far, this experience was the most important. We were hungry for direction and information from the world’s leading experts in site-relocation, and they delivered.


Key Conference Takeaways Specific to Orange County:


Supply Chain Shake-Up: A reshoring wave is coming. There was a time that cheap labor drove manufacturing off-shore, but that’s not necessarily the case now. We began to see a reshoring wave pre-COVID. During the pause, manufacturing in America was accelerated. Our desire to decrease the importation of certain product and get product to consumers quicker became a priority, especially as our ports clogged, supplies were low and expensive, and our consumer demand was high.


All of these trends impact the future of manufacturing products and getting them to consumers quickly. And where cheap labor once drove manufacturing off shore, innovation and energy cost will bring manufacturing back home. Medical and defense products and food manufacturing are among America’s highest priorities.


How We Can Compete:


We must invest in our grid and telecommunications: We have to be prepared not only with answers to energy and technology questions, we have to deliver consumer energy and telecommunication demands.


Certified sites are the expectation of all Site-Selectors: A 12-month to 18-month wait to get approvals-to-construct is a deal breaker. That’s why we are trending toward a “land-grab” throughout the state by national developers who are willing to purchase large tracts of land, get them pre-approved for their clients and launch. Locations that have sites ready-to-go are the locations that will likely win the projects. The time is now to invest in the pre-certification of sites.


Workforce availability is a national issue. There aren’t enough workers to satisfy the demand, which will increase investment in innovation and technology in all industries from industrial to tourism to retail and everything in-between.


Timing is everything and those who prepare will be rewarded. We must rally together to optimize this moment in history in order to reap the rewards that will sustain our economy and enrich our communities for years to come.