A community profile is usually the first piece of information that an industrial firm (prospect) or a site-location consultant will obtain regarding a community's potential suitability as a location for an industrial facility. The community profile is used to accomplish the following steps in the site-selection process.
1) The firm or their consultant requests community and site profiles for each viable community within the geographic area of the site search.
2) Information provided through the community profiles will then be reviewed to determine which communities the industrial firm wishes to include in the initial pool of potential project locations.
The information in the community profile is used by the prospect to assess the impact of doing business in a particular community, based on various factors important to the firm. Those local officials who have prepared an informative, concise, and clear community profile can only increase their vicinity's potential of being selected by the prospect for additional review. The following suggestions are made in an effort to assist community leaders in thinking through the creation of their community profile.
In Ohio, the Ohio Economic Development Council representative provides a standard community profile for their community. This community profile will aid a community in meeting the demands for an informative, concise, and clear image of their community and helps the prospect in its comparison of one location to another. Too often a community will use their local promotional brochure as a community profile. While these brochures may contain the information a prospective firm or consultant needs to make a decision, the format used is lengthy and includes information not yet needed by the firm. These promotional brochures are helpful later in the attraction process after the prospect has narrowed down the search to a few communities. At that stage the prospect is more interested in the quality of life issues that are often presented through a community promotional brochure format. However, through this initial contact, the prospect is trying to easily determine which communities have the basic resources needed by the firm to profitably operate it's business. It is important for a community to remember that their profile is one of a hundred that a firm will be reviewing. A lengthy format may make it too difficult and time consuming for a prospect to review and remember the community.
During this initial search stage, a community usually is not even aware that it is being considered. It is therefore important that the community profile contain the most recent and accurate information available. For example, a recent increase in sewage treatment capacity needs to be updated because it is unlikely the community will get to personally tell this story. A community should never guess at information it provides through its profile. Instead, every entry should be checked for accuracy. In addition, all information requested should be provided even if it means extra effort and expense to obtain the answer. Through this profile, a community is identifying its understanding of industrial operations and demonstrating its ability to meet the needs of the firm.
The community profile should be made available to those organizations or state departments which community leaders feel are the first point of contact for their local attraction effort. At a minimum, the Ohio Department of Development, the Ohio Economic Development Council representatives, industrial Real Estate Brokerage Firms, Railroad Development Offices, and the local Chamber of Commerce should have copies. Community leaders in economic development should discuss with each of these organizations the format before creating the local profile. Sufficient copies of the community profile should be maintained to supply an original copy of each profile to each of these organizations as prospective attraction opportunities arise. In addition, local existing industries should be provided with a copy for their own use and to keep their corporate headquarters updated.
As economic development leaders develop their community's profile, it may be helpful to understand a few reasons why a prospect is requesting particular information. It is important to remember the firm is looking for a community that can best match the firm's particular operational mode. All firms are not the same. Some need rail transportation, some do not. Some need a large supply of water, others need very little. The firm is looking for a match that will avoid stressing not only its own operations but the operations of the community as well. Most firms consider it to be in their best interest to be an outstanding corporate citizen.
LAYOUT: Information should be presented in a four-page letter size (8 1/2 x 11) layout. This is best achieved by printing the profile on both sides of an 8 1/2 x 17 page and then folding it in the middle to present a four-page letter size format. Significant use of white space is encouraged so the prospect's eyes can quickly find the particular information they are seeking.
COMMUNITY OVERVIEW: In a few introductory sentences, the prospect can learn about the uniqueness of a particular community. Hopefully, the prospect will store in their memory a particular quality that brings to mind the community.
DEMOGRAPHICS: Population numbers will help the prospect capture a sense for the community's change during the last decade. Tax information indicates a key cost of doing business in the community as well as a community's willingness to pay for quality services. Labor force information helps a prospect determine their ability to competitively compete for a workforce that meets their need.
TRANSPORTATION: Information on trucking firms and rail providers helps a firm determine their ability to meet particular shipping requirements within a reliable and competitive market place. Commercial and local airport information assists in determining the ability to transport personnel, customers, and products as needed by the firm.
UTILITIES: Every industrial firm has its own unique demand for water, sewer, electric, communications, and natural gas use. The company needs to know the service provider and current levels of service in order to determine the impact the firm's manufacturing process demands will have on the community. Of course, the firm must also determine that the community has the capacities to meet the utility demands of the planned facility. In addition, there is interest in determining if the community has excess utility capacities to allow for future growth by both the community and the firm.
LABOR: Information on educational institutions helps a firm assess the ability of a community to meet educational needs of the employee's family. Items like higher education, medical services, and a list of major manufacturers in the area help a prospective firm begin to understand the area labor market. Firms seek to understand the existing labor supply and the potential of the area to meet training and health care needs of employees.
MAP: A map is included in order that the firm can easily identify the location of the community. Major highways and metropolitan areas are indicated as a point of reference. These references make it easier for the firm to remember the community, particularly if it is in a rural location.
View Community Profile Format (adobe .pdf format)
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