At IEDC Annual Conference, Business Facilities Looks At Attracting Tech Firms

With three panelists sharing insight, BF's Editorial Director moderated the conversation on what criteria technology firms are evaluating going into 2023.

By Anne Cosgrove, Business Facilities Editorial Director

Attracting technology firms and the economic impact those businesses bring to a location includes important factors like a suitable site and an available workforce. While these two criteria are undoubtedly crucial to the successful location of a tech operation, on September 19 Business Facilities presented a Learning Lab panel discussion at the IEDC Annual Conference in Oklahoma City, OK that honed in on the significance of an ecosystem of tech resources when it comes to “Attracting Tech Companies To Your Location.”

Technology companies are evolving, and so is the site selection landscape. As Business Facilities’ Editorial Director I had the opportunity to ask our esteemed panelists what trends they’re seeing when interfacing with corporate site selectors and consultants in a tech firm search.

Business Facilities presented Attracting Tech Firms To Your Location at the IEDC 2022 Annual Conference in Oklahoma City, OK. (Photo: Business Facilities)

As moderator, I was joined by three panelists who have experience working with tech firms in their site searches and once located supporting growth and evolution of those businesses.

Our panelists were: Amy Walton, Deputy Director for Business Development, Oklahoma Department of Commerce; Danny Chavez, Chief Business Recruitment Officer, Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, in North Carolina; and Susan Donkers, Vice President of Strategic Development for Global Location Strategies, a consulting firm in Greenville, SC.

After initial questions on trends for tech site selection, the discussion honed in on the point that tech firms of all shapes and sizes very often benefit from an ecosystem geared to technology businesses. When choosing a location, these companies are evaluating the availability and proximity of digital infrastructure, proximity to key vendors and tech peers, and, possibly, financing. For start-ups in the tech realm, the point was raised that entrepreneurs often benefit from access to peers or to resources from the community. This conversation echoed an interesting panel earlier at the IEDC Annual Conference, during the Plenary Session—that highlighted the linchpin role of entrepreneurs in the tech ecosystem.

With technology permeating virtually all businesses, regardless of core operation, the discussion defined a Tech Company as one that manufactures technology; sells technology as a service; relies on tech for its core operation; or harnesses technology to forward its business. This may be considered quite a broad definition, and that is the nature of technology and its impacts.

Recognizing that tech firms do come in all shapes and sizes—and also that the 3-person company of today may very well employ 50 employees in the near future, panelists discussed how economic developers and site selectors should evaluate how their organization and community as a whole can emphasize or create these types of resources for tech companies looking for a new location.

What is your experience or thoughts on what it takes to attract tech firms to a location in 2022, and into 2023? Please share in the Comments section below.
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