When it comes to economic development and technology, it’s all about information—what a company requires and what properties in our inventory meet those needs.
It’s extremely important for companies to tell us everything about what kind of site or facility they are looking for. The more we know about a company’s site needs, the better able we are to match that company with the most appropriate location. But that also means that we must be prepared and proactive, with inventory on hand to meet a company’s location requests quickly.
One of the most useful tools we have is our building and site database and our geographic information system (GIS) mapping application, the Entergy Site Selection Center (SSC). This one-stop shop for site selectors, real estate consultants, and the national and international business community contains thousands of properties in our four-state area (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas).
Our Site Selection Center allows users to search for properties by proximity to transportation infrastructure or property type and size, among other characteristics. After a potential property is located, they can then run reports to understand the demographics and businesses in the area.
Entergy led the way in 2008 by developing the Entergy Site Selection Center, which not only provides rich GIS content but also satisfies the need for a comprehensive picture of buildings and sites in the four-state area. We worked closely with Leotta-Evers Consulting (LEO, LLC), specialists in GIS solutions, to develop this innovative and interactive web application. Our allies (state, regional and local economic development organizations) may also utilize the SSC by taking advantage of our SSC wrapper program. A wrapper enables our partners to customize the SSC with their branding and for their region, which changes both the appearance and the coverage area of the website.
The GIS technology also allows us to locate properties that are not for sale but that have development potential. By locating these properties in advance, we can negotiate with landowners and add their property to our inventory, allowing us to be prepared when a company comes calling.
We also use subscription databases to locate suppliers, potential customers and other demographics such as workforce. Companies not only need to find a location that meets their physical and infrastructure requirements, but they also must have access to the appropriate type and amount of labor. For example, with the help of technology, we can conduct labor analyses to look at the number of workers within a specific occupation and within the appropriate drive time to the site of interest.
As an experienced business development team that understands how to use GIS effectively, we are upgrading our Site Selection Center to be able to offer more services and conveniences. Working with LEO, we will completely rebuild the SSC website beginning in 2016. One of key improvement includes responsive technology that allows the website to be accessed from any size device, from phones to pads, an important feature for busy site consultants who must spend time in the field away from their laptops.
With an improved property search workflow, the new website will give users the ability to search for properties that are within the proximity to a certain demographic. For example, a user may want to search for a property with certain physical characteristics such as “five miles from an interstate, with a 150,000 SF building.” Our new technology will allow a user to narrow that down even further to properties close to the interstate with a 150,000 SF building and a population of 50,000 within a 45-minute drive time.
The updated Site Selection Center, expected to be completed in early 2017, is just one more way that the Entergy business development team is applying technology to proactively meet the needs of companies interested in our region.