Global Site Selectors Coming

April 2014, CUJ

Photo of Paige Webster

Paige Webster

CTUIR hosting Site Link forum to bring national specialists together with economic developers from throughout Northwest.

MISSION – A conference here in early May has the potential to draw business and economic development to the Umatilla Indian Reservation, according to Tribal economic development staff.

The Confederated Tribes’ Coyote Business Park will collaborate May 7-9 with Webster Global Site Selectors in hosting a Site Link forum where seven “site selectors” from different firms will meet with economic developers to consider new sites for their clients. Site selectors are specialists hired to identify the best places for corporations to plan their next facility.

“There are only 245 site selectors nationally so getting seven to Umatilla is pretty good,” said Paige Webster, President of Webster Global Site Selectors in Phoenix, the organizer and one of the site selectors who will be at the conference at Wildhorse next month. “We have a plethora of clients looking to expand their businesses and this showcases not only the Umatilla tribe and the region, but the whole aspect of the Northwest.”

Stephanie Seamans, from the Tribes’ Economic and Community Development Department, agreed that the forum is a big deal. In addition to the site selectors, up to 75 different community economic developers from around the country will attend the event to have the chance to pitch their communities to the site selectors to get on their radar screens.

“Here’s the thing,” said Webster, “we have gentlemen from Mississippi and Ohio flying to come to Pendleton to have access to seven national site selectors. Any time you have an event like this people are interested in talking to consultants. That’s why we’re getting participants from all over the country.”

The reason the number of participants has been limited is to ensure that planners get one one-on-one face time with selectors, Seamans said, calling it “match makers and speed dating.”

The Tribes are interested in continued development of Coyote Business Park with a goal of manufacturing and warehouse growth to develop more economic diversity.

“Who knows what could come of this,” Seamans said. “How do you bring business to Coyote Business Park? Bring in a site selector. In the business location industry a large number of projects are handled by site selectors, we’ve heard approximately half are handled by them. If you’re not on their radar screen and don’t make the cut, you may not even know a company was considering an area. If they can’t find data on you readily or know about you, it’s hard to get in the game. Especially in rural areas, it is difficult to make these connections. This has only occurred on one other reservation and the only one in a rural area.”

This conference has also brought together the region and its other economic development engines. Coyote Business Park, Pacific Power, the State of Oregon, Umatilla County are helping to support the event, along with the City of Pendleton and the Round-Up Community Development Corporation.

Webster’s firm is facilitating the forum.

Webster met the DECD team at a similar conference in Salt Lake City and decided to visit Pendleton in September of last year. He was impressed with the Tribes and its available land, and fl ew out to see more. He chose Wildhorse Resort & Casino as a venue for the fi rst in a series of forums because he hopes to focus on rural development in America. Most of the invitations are going to potential developers in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada and Northern California.

For more information, visit sitelinkforum.com, the offi cial website for the event.