Opportunity Nears for Region’s Economic Development Professionals

April 2014, CUJ

By Staff of the Department of Economic and Community Development for the Confederated Tribes.

In economic development, opportunities come in various ways. Sometimes it’s a personal connection, an inquiry from a business looking to expand into the area, or it’s responding to a call for proposals from a government agency. In each case, something is going on behind the scenes that plays into the decision making of the entity moving into a location. It’s called site selection.

At CTUIR’s Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) we strive to meet every opportunity with the best responses possible. Sometimes the deals take months, even years, to solidify before a shovel is put into the earth and a building starts construction. The past few years have been difficult for the economy nationwide, and still we are making progress. We meet with all businesses, from small tribal member businesses to the very largest businesses in the country to interest them in pursuing a location here.

The Coyote Business Park and Wanapa Industrial Site names are getting out there in the world. We have to cast a very wide net knowing it is very difficult to get even a few fish. We are searching for manufacturing firms, distribution warehouses, office complexes, and now unmanned aerial vehicle firms.

Consultants called site selectors work on behalf of many companies to assist them with location decisions and are likely are the most important people to inform about our sites. It is estimated they touch about half of the location decisions in America. It is exceedingly important that site selectors know what our community has to offer.

That’s why it is remarkable that next month seven national site selectors will be at Wildhorse Resort for a conference with 75 economic development professionals from across the country to hear about their sites. And unlike some of the other attendees, we will have them here, able to see and feel and take in our potential locations. Unlike a trade show or conference where we have only a few minutes to try to make an impression on them, they are spending time in our community, hearing our stories, seeing our development and thinking about how our sites might work for their next corporate clients.

These seven are respected in their field, some of the smartest people in the industry, having advanced degrees and collectively thousands of deals under their belts, creating thousands of jobs for communities across the country. They advise companies on what makes the most sense for them, from workforce availability and skill level to transportation modeling that takes into account every detail of the supply and distribution chain. The modeling gets down to how much fuel, tire tread and time will be used to get to locations. These site selectors have worked with all of the companies that you see every day, from retail operations to warehousing and distribution facilities that bring inventories to stores.

To be ready for the level of opportunities the CTUIR is seeking, we have put infrastructure in the ground, certifying and re-certifying the site as “shovel ready,” an indicator to site selectors that an independent entity has verified we are ready and there won’t be any unexpected hiccups when they advise their client to locate here.

For a fellow site selector to choose this location to host a site selector forum, something was seen in this community that other site selectors are going to have an opportunity to experience as well. An esteemed site selector group of this size may not pass this way again in our lifetimes. We hope these site selectors know we understand what a phenomenal opportunity this is for our region and especially the CTUIR. Welcome to our homeland and all it has to offer.

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

This story originally appeared in the CUJ. The Confederated Umatilla Journal is the monthly newspaper of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Pendleton, Oregon.