Skilled labor availability, highway accessibility, and labor costs have been ranked as the three most important site selection factors in a recently released national survey of business executives conducted by Area Development Magazine.
Other top vote getters, in order, were occupancy/construction costs, advanced information and communications technology services, and building availability. Tax exemptions came in 11th out of the 35 site selection factors that were considered. Land availability finished 13th.
Close to 250 executives holding decision-making positions in a variety of business sectors completed the survey. Of the respondents, 39% were from manufacturing companies, while 20% came from finance, insurance, and real estate, 11% from construction and trades, and 10% from distribution and logistics.
The executives who had relocation plans were asked to list the primary reasons for moving from their current locations. High taxes was the top vote getter and was cited by 48% of the executives. Other primary reasons listed were labor costs (30%), labor availability (26%), excessive government regulations (24%), and poor infrastructure (19%).
Mericle Vice President Jim Cummings said the results of the survey bode well for Mericle’s available properties throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, especially those within CenterPoint Commerce & Trade Park. “CenterPoint is less than one mile from I-81 and I-476 and more than 700,000 people live within 30 miles,” he said. “The park’s central location combined with the area’s competitive labor costs, traditionally high unemployment rates, and 17 colleges and universities make labor recruitment very easy,” he said.
Cummings said Mericle’s innovative ReadyToGo!™ Program practically guarantees that clients will have a wide variety of buildings and sites from which to choose when they consider CenterPoint.
Through the ReadyToGo!™ Program, Mericle is fully preparing more than 90 sites in 11 Northeastern Pennsylvania business parks. Most of the 37 sites that have already been completed are located in CenterPoint. For each ReadyToGo™ Site, Mericle clears, grades, and compacts the parcel and obtains all of the permits and approvals needed to begin the immediate construction of building foundations. Once a client chooses a parcel and signs an agreement, Mericle will have the building ready in seven to ten months.
“We have shortened the time between the agreement signing and tenant move-in by one to two years compared to most major metro areas,” Cummings said.
All of Mericle’s ReadyToGo!™ Sites in CenterPoint are located in a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA) zone. This means that real estate taxes on improvements are abated 100% for 10 years on all building construction projects.
In addition, Mericle uses its aggressive speculative building program to make sure prospective tenants have many space options when touring Northeastern Pennsylvania. “We’ve constructed 15 industrial, spec, and office buildings on speculation between the start of the recession in 2008 and today,” said Cummings. “We expect to construct several more in CenterPoint in 2014. Having so many sites available because of our ReadyToGo!™ Program means we can monitor market conditions and quickly construct the type and size of building that is most in demand.”
Finally, Mericle’s corporate structure means that its buildings can be offered at lease prices that are much lower than those in competing metro areas. “We are a vertically integrated master builder,” said Cummings. “Our own employees design, construct, fit-out, and maintain our buildings. This allows us to cut out the profit centers that normally drive costs up and slow projects down.”
Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services, founded by Robert Mericle, has provided commercial real estate solutions to companies in Northeastern and North Central Pennsylvania for more than 30 years. Mericle is a developer of investment grade industrial, office, flex, and medical space and ReadyToGo!™ Sites. More than 13,400 people work in the buildings Mericle has developed.