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From Start to Finish: How the Best Economic Development Teams Help with Site Selection

Entergy Economic Development - Sam Richardson

By Sam Richardson, Manager, Business Development

Posted May 28, 2015 in Economic Development, Site Selection

Entergy Economic Development: How Economic Development Teams Help with Site Selection

In my 25 years of experience in business and economic development, I have asked company representatives and site selection consultants many times “What can we do better to help you?” Their answers have helped Entergy become a leader in economic development because we’ve developed innovative tools in response to their requests for location information. We were among the first to develop database tools such as our Site Selection Center, and we will unveil a totally revamped Site Selection Center with more ED bells and whistles in 2016.

When I recently had that “What can we do better for you?” conversation with Dr. C. R. “Buzz” Canup, the founder and President of Canup & Associates, Inc., I got a very insightful answer. Too many economic development teams, he said, don’t see the project through to the end, or they miss the obvious factors that can torpedo a site.

According to Buzz Canup, maybe these teams identify locations, but they don’t provide strong demographics, the details needed to choose between a good site and an excellent site. Maybe they don’t supply all the information that a company requests because tracking down data costs time and money. Or maybe the project reaches the negotiation phase, and the ED team is nowhere to be found, leaving the company to bargain on its own. Still other ED teams aren’t supportive enough when it comes to discussions about incentives, leaving a company to muddle through and possibly miss some financial benefits.

Sometimes it’s as major as bungled electrical infrastructure needs. He cited a couple of recent examples:

  1. After narrowing the search region to a short list of locations, the site search team focused on a site that had close, but not immediate access, to 115kv electrical service. The local electrical service provider assured the team it would be no problem to run a two-mile line from the site to the existing transmission line. The service provider agreed to provide an on-site electrical substation to step down the service and provide the requested service to the client. It all sounded good until the service provider was asked about the capacity of the existing line. Not only did the electrical representative not know the existing available capacity, but it was discovered it wasn’t even the utility’s line. It was a transmission line that ran through their service area but did not provide direct service. No one on the service provider’s team had taken the time or effort to evaluate and qualify the capacity or feasibility of tapping into the existing line. RESULT: site eliminated.
  2. On a site search for an existing building, a seemingly suitable facility and site were identified. However the electrical service would have to be significantly upgraded. “Not a problem,” according to the local service provider. There was an existing high voltage line about a mile south of the site, and it had significant available capacity and could be extended to the site. The right-of- way seemed simple enough since it was adjacent to an existing rail line. Unfortunately, about 90% of the ROW was wetlands and would require approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer and a permit from the state department of environmental quality. By the way, it would probably take about 12 months to get the permit after the ROW acquisition was negotiated, plus another 12 months to order the equipment and materials, and erect the line. One other thing—the client had to negotiate and acquire the ROW from the owner. The electrical service provider did not provide that service. RESULT: site eliminated.

Of course, Entergy makes sure that slip-ups like this never occur because our Business Development team includes engineers who proactively determine power line capacity and extension feasibility for every site. Before Entergy recommends a site for a power-intensive project, our engineers have already determined that the location can be served electrically with the amount of power a client needs.

This follow-through and attention to detail are priorities for the Entergy business development team. Not only do we offer technology that helps companies locate the data they need, but we are available to explain it and to do specialized research. We also offer business services that help companies determine their energy needs and costs and can develop customized plans for their business.

Our experienced team is extremely knowledgeable about everything from incentives and local labor forces to resource availability and electrical infrastructure. Entergy knows the local players, and those relationships we have spent years developing with government and business leaders in our four-state area come in handy when it’s time to sit down at the negotiating table.

So do we go the extra mile for our clients? Yeah, we do. You can depend on it.

Key Industries

Advanced Materials, Agribusiness, Automotive Manufacturing, Chemical Products, Data Centers, Distribution and Warehousing, Energy Services & Manufacturing, Food Processing, Metal Fabrication, Primary Metals, Wood and Paper Products

Entergy Economic Development - Sam Richardson

Sam Richardson has been with Entergy Corporation for 34 years, serving in a variety of roles in Customer Service, Sales and Marketing. As Manager, Corporate Business Development, he promotes the Entergy service area in Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana to existing and potential new industrial customers.