Cover Story Archives

Race to the Bottom

KPMG’s 2010 Competitive Alternatives study reveals that the push to be the location with the lowest cost of manufacturing is heating up around the world. In a recovering economy, every major business expansion, relocation or new facility is the focus of intense competition. With fewer projects to zero in on, every location is vying to offer the lowest overall manufacturing costs. One of the most coveted measures of cost competitiveness is found in KPMG’s Competitive Alternatives study, which is conducted every two years. The 2010 Competitive Alternatives survey examined 112 cities in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. The KPMG study measured 26 significant cost components most likely to vary by location, including: labor, taxes, real estate and utilities, as they applied to 17 business sectors over a 10-year planning horizon. A range of non-cost competitiveness factors also were considered, as were currency exchange rates. The 2010 study was revamped to include a new focus on the largest cities in each country, and it includes a number of major cities not included in the 2008 survey, such as Berlin, Los Angeles, Lyon, Miami, Osaka, Rome and Tokyo. The results, released at the end of March, revealed some bad news for the U.S.—the United States dropped from third place in the 2008 KPMG study to seventh place in the 2010 survey. Mexico and Canada continued to hold onto the first- and second-place rankings, respectively, while the Netherlands surged from number seven to number three. “The global recession has not been the only factor impacting international business over the last two years,” explains Simon Harding, associate partner in KPMG’s Advisory Service practice and head of its Canadian Strategic & Commercial Intelligence practice. “Divergent trends in exchange rates, utility and transportation costs, taxes and incentives all helped to shape the international competitiveness environment in 2010,” Harding noted. “The degree of variation in business costs between major cities in some countries also is quite remarkable. All of these factors highlight the importance of having access to up-to-date intelligence on international business competitiveness issues for both businesses and governments.”   TAMPA AND ATLANTA LEADING LOW-COST LARGE U.S. CITIES Harding told Business Facilities that this year’s emphasis on the largest cities in each country was a primary factor in the downward shift in the U.S. competitiveness ranking. The change in focus impacted on the U.S. ranking due to the greater variation in costs between the largest cities and regional cities in the U. S. The cost […]

The Age Of Alternative Energy Arrives

Locations across the country have made alternative energy central to their economic recovery strategies. The clean energy future is here, and the race is on to claim a leadership position in solar, wind, geothermal and biofuel technology and manufacturing.

Editors’ Location Picks

In a tough year, we were tempted to use “survival of the fittest” as the criteria for our annual location showcase. However, this year’s selections not only are surviving—they’re thriving!

2009 Metro Rankings

2009 Metro Rankings

The economic squeeze has intensified the competition between localities at all levels. Here we give our annual assessment of the best of the best–the cities, towns and MSAs which have executed the most successful strategies and deserve to take a bow as our rankings leaders.

2009 Business Facilities Rankings Report

The ongoing economic downturn is putting every state to the test, intensifying the competition for a dwindling number of new projects and development initiatives. Our annual look at the top-ranked localities reveals those that are thriving as well as surviving.