Corporate Headquarters: Finding A Home Base For Business

Workforce, infrastructure, and quality of life factor into corporate headquarters decisions. Choosing where to move or expand this operation depends on these aspects and more.

By BF Editors
From the July/August 2022 Issue

Even in this new age of remote work, where a company chooses to operate its corporate headquarters is an important part of that company’s strategy and anticipated success. Tax and regulatory conditions, physical proximity to essential employees, local infrastructure, quality of life—all play a role in deciding on a place to maximize a company’s home field advantage.

Locations that have been successful in attracting corporate headquarters have responded to these needs. Here are two locations recognizing what companies are looking for when choosing their home base.

CMA CGM Group Recommits To Virginia: Shipping Giant Retains N. American HQ In Norfolk

Founded in 1978 in France, the CMA CGM Group is a world leader in shipping and logistics. With $56 billion in revenue, the company operates in 160 countries, has 130,000 employees worldwide, and operates more than 560 vessels moving product through 80% of the world’s ports. CMA CGM employs more than 650 workers at its U.S. headquarters in Norfolk, VA and is among the top users of The Port of Virginia. In 2021, CMA CGM handled 22 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) and handles more than 400,000 tons of airfreight and 2.8 million tons of inland freight annually.

corporate headquarters decisions
(Photo: Virginia Economic Development Partnership)

Due to the company’s continued growth in global coverage and maritime and intermodal services, CMA CGM began evaluating plans in 2020 to either grow its presence in the Hampton Roads region or relocate and expand operations in competing markets in other states, representing a potential loss of more than 650 existing Virginia jobs.

Strategic Location and World-Class Infrastructure. Virginia represents an entry point for domestic and global commerce, offering a strategic East Coast location that enables companies to access major U.S. economic hubs east of the Mississippi River and across the continental United States. The Commonwealth is within a day’s drive of nearly half of American consumers and is especially convenient to the affluent Northeast corridor and the high-growth Southeast. Virginia’s integrated transportation system of highways, railroads, airports, and seaports offers logistical advantages for companies in every industry. These assets influenced CMA CGM’s original decision to establish its U.S. headquarters in Norfolk in 2005.

The Port of Virginia was ranked the highest performing port in North America in 2021, according to The Container Port Performance Index 2021 (CPPI). As the only East Coast port with authorization for 55-foot channels, The Port of Virginia boasts deep shipping channels, no height restrictions, and double-stack rail service with two Class I railroads. By 2025, the Port of Virginia will have invested $1.5 billion in modernization and expansion projects.

Rankings Recognize Best Metros For Corporate HQs, Business Climate

In Business Facilities’ 2022 Metro Rankings Report, cities across the U.S. and Canada are hot spots for corporate headquarters, best business climates.

As CMA CGM considered expanding its roots again nearly 20 years later, the opportunity to continue a successful partnership with the rapidly expanding Port of Virginia was a key benefit.

An Innovation Ecosystem. Following a competitive site selection search process and incentive negotiations, CMA CGM chose to retain its North American headquarters in Norfolk and expand in Virginia, announcing in February 2021 a $36 million investment and more than 400 new jobs, primarily in customer care and financial services.

Said Rodolphe Saadé, Chairman and CEO, CMA CGM Group, “We always had a strong and long-lasting commitment to the U.S. [Virginia was] an obvious choice for us.”

The company’s plans also included establishing the American hub of ZEBOX, a startup incubator and accelerator in Arlington County that assists innovative startups in developing new technologies for transportation, logistics, mobility, and industry 4.0.

The scope of CMA CGM’s expansion in Virginia—from its U.S. headquarters and operations in Hampton Roads to ZEBOX America in Arlington County—demonstrates that the Commonwealth’s strategic access to global and domestic markets, transportation infrastructure, world-class port facilities, and commitment to innovation make Virginia a premier business destination.

Irving-Las Colinas, TX: How The “Headquarters of Headquarters” Is Winning With Companies And Community

When it comes to supporting business growth that truly enhances its community, Irving-Las Colinas, located in the heart of North Texas, leads the way. A magnet for corporate relocations, the city is recognized as the “Headquarters of Headquarters,” and is home to 10 Fortune 500 companies. In fact, just this summer, two Fortune 500s, Caterpillar (Fortune #73), a global industrial powerhouse, and Builders FirstSource (Fortune #176), a leading building products company, will now call the city their headquarters home. The two companies join Irving-Las Colinas’ other Fortune 500 companies, including Exxon Mobil, Fluor, Kimberly-Clark, Celanese, Pioneer Natural Resources, McKesson, Vistra, and Commercial Metals.

Corporate headquarters decisions
Irving-Las Colinas, TX skyline (Photo: Irving Economic Development Partnership)

Centrally located in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, Irving-Las Colinas’ value proposition is hard to match with its business-friendly strategy that offers relocating or expanding companies streamlined practices like its six-day average permitting process for new construction. In addition, with its unparalleled proximity to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Irving-Las Colinas’ Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ), which encompasses approximately 2,500 acres at the airport, includes a 621-acre business park that allows companies to defer, reduce or eliminate U.S. Customs duties and reduce inventory and distribution costs.

With the city and state’s pro-business mindset, companies moving to Irving-Las Colinas are also often eligible for incentives, ranging from tax abatements to grant programs. For example, the city provides companies access to its two Tax Increment Finance Districts (TIFs) and three Public Improvement Districts (PIDs) that can help reimburse various infrastructure costs. The Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) and Texas Enterprise Zone (TEZ) is available to companies that offer significant projected job creation and capital investment. In addition, the State of Texas provides a variety of grant programs that support a growing, educated workforce and foster innovation. Its Skills Development Fund assists community and technical colleges in financing customized job training programs.

Not only do business opportunities abound and companies flourish in Irving-Las Colinas, but also their employees enjoy an exceptional quality of life known as the “10-Minute Life.” Irving-Las Colinas’ leaders first envisioned the “10-Minute Life” by conveniently developing the city’s jobs, housing and amenities around major transportation centers that offer accessibility to all of Dallas-Fort Worth and beyond. Within 10 minutes, one can be at the office, dining at a favorite restaurant, hiking or biking miles of trails, attending a live concert, or arriving at the region’s two major airports. This way of life helps companies in Irving-Las Colinas move beyond the standard benefits and offer employees an array of work-life balance amenities, all within easy reach.

Conversely, the focus on the “10-Minute Life” also enriches current Irving-Las Colinas residents’ lives as the City continually works to broaden its recreation options, diversify its housing and develop infrastructure that adds accessibility and stays on pace with the region’s rapid growth.

In addition, tax revenue collected from the City’s corporate wins and reinvestment provided annual household tax savings, new jobs and increased worker earnings. Last fiscal year, these economic development wins resulted in 32 corporate recruitment and retention/expansion “wins” and generated $2,272,231 in capital investment.

“The people who live and work in Irving-Las Colinas are our most important asset, and the city is built to help businesses thrive and enhance the lives of everyone in our community,” said Beth A. Bowman, president and CEO of Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce and the Irving Economic Development Partnership. “Irving-Las Colinas offers an ideal business-friendly environment that appeals to today’s corporations, while also providing their employees and their families with a vibrant quality of life.”