Site Selection: 9 Points to Ponder Before Choosing Your Next Industrial Location

Selecting an industrial site isn’t a simple task, especially if you don’t have real estate experience; here's what to cover.

Original | Site Selection Main

Simplify your industrial site search with these nine tips.

Does your job description include “other duties as assigned”? Sometimes transportation and logistics professionals get roped into tasks beyond their core duties — and one of those can be finding the right site for your next facility or distribution center.

This isn’t a simple task, especially if you don’t have real estate experience — but it’s an important decision that can impact your business in the short and long term. For that reason, we’ve simplified your site search into nine points to cover to make sure you’re checking all of the right boxes — and performing those “other duties” to the best of your ability.

1. Location, Location, Location

The gist: Just as location is everything for personal real estate, the same goes for finding the right industrial site.

Considerations:

  • From where and how you’ll source raw materials
  • How this site fits into your distribution model
  • How being located in this site would impact your supply chain in general

The question to ask: Thinking through these considerations, which location gives you the best geographic position to succeed?

2. Your Future Workforce

The gist: You will need employees to run your business, so be sure the location you choose will supply the human resources to meet your demand.

Considerations:

  • The skills required to staff your new location
  • Whether there are currently individuals in the area who fit those workforce requirements
  • The availability of training programs (e.g. via community colleges or other programs) that will continue to train and supplement your workforce

The question to ask: Will you be able to properly build your workforce in this location?

3. Transportation Infrastructure

The gist: You need to get materials in and product out, so the transportation options at your site are an important consideration.

Considerations:

  • How close you’ll need to be to major interstates or highways
  • Whether your site will be rail served (tip: this Site Solutions Tool can help)
  • If so, whether rail infrastructure exists — or can be developed — at your potential site.

The questions to ask: Will you have the transportation infrastructure you need? And if not, how much will you need to invest to build it?

4. Utilities

The gist: In addition to needing transportation, you’ll also need access to utilities like water, electricity and sewer.

Considerations:

  • What your utilities demands are
  • Whether they’re currently available at the potential site
  • If not, how much it will cost to get service

The questions to ask: Will this site meet your utility demands? If not, is it worth the investment?

5. Zoning

The gist: Whether now or later, your site will need to meet zoning requirements.

Considerations:

  • How the property is currently zoned
  • Whether that zoning is appropriate for your intended use of the property
  • If not, whether there is a path to change the zoning

The question to ask: Will you have to get the property rezoned? And if so, how demanding is the process?

6. Rehab vs. New Construction

The gist: What works best for your needs: building new, or taking over an existing facility?

Considerations:

  • Whether an existing facility fits your specifications
  • If so, whether it allows you to expand in the future
  • If not, whether an investment in new construction will pay off in the long run

The question to ask: Thinking about the present and the future, does an existing site provide everything you need, or is the investment in new construction worth it?

7. Costs and Incentives

The gist: There are more costs associated with a site than construction.

Considerations:

  • Land
  • Taxes
  • Incentives

The question to ask: What do your costs look like when you include the purchase price of land and the taxes you’ll pay? Do you qualify for local or state incentives that would motivate you to locate there?

8. Availability

The gist: Your time line may influence whether a site is right for you, so know your needs ahead of time.

Considerations:

  • If you need to be operational quickly, you’ll need to look for sites that are existing or near ready to start construction
  • If you have more time, you can consider sites that take longer to prepare for your arrival, thus widening your pool of possibilities.

The question to ask: How quickly do you need to be up and running?

9. Environmental Factors

The gist: Your site may need work to meet environmental requirements. If preliminary work hasn’t been completed, it could impact your time line.

Considerations:

  • Wetland studies
  • Threatened and endangered species review
  • Geotechnical review
  • Cultural resources review

The question to ask: What studies must be completed for the potential site, and what is the permitting process?

Happy Hunting

Finding the right site takes time and consideration, but knowing the right questions to ask is a helpful place to start. If you’d like a little extra guidance, get in touch and we’ll connect you with an expert who can help.

Here’s to finding your perfect site — and to turning “other duties as assigned” into successes.

Related Article: Three Ways to Connect With Rail -- And How to Make Them Happen

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