Depending upon what type of job you have, I bet you speak a different language at work than you do at home. Each industry comes with its own terms and acronyms, and this is especially true in economic development; acronyms are in its DNA. When having a conversation with someone outside of my industry, I often have to backtrack and give definitions. So today, I’m going to explain the less obvious term “business attraction” and why it’s important to our business community.
Business attraction simply means recruiting businesses to expand or relocate to an area. There are many ways this can happen but in general, it is either reactively or proactively.
The reactive process usually looks like this: A company decides they want a location in the northeast. They contact each state’s economic development office and share their needs. In New York, the economic development office is Empire State Development (ESD). From there, ESD shares the site selection criteria with the various economic development organizations (EDO) throughout the state to identify any available sites or buildings that fit the company’s criteria. The local EDOs respond with information of available properties and sell the area’s features and benefits (workforce, quality of life, infrastructure, proximity to resources). They also share the available incentives and benefits (local, regional, and state programs).
In this reactive example, the competition is great and the success rate is small, which is why your local EDO, the Cayuga Economic Development Agency (CEDA), prefers a proactive strategy.
So how does CEDA identify the businesses who would be most likely to expand or relocate to Cayuga County? The best sources of leads for business attraction are our existing businesses. It makes a lot of sense to recruit new businesses that complement our existing businesses.
Through CEDA’s business retention and expansion (BR&E – another economic development term) efforts, common suppliers or customers are identified and can be targeted for recruitment. As representatives from CEDA travel throughout Cayuga County meeting with our existing businesses, they are listening, taking notes, and piecing together a much bigger picture. By having these affiliated businesses in closer proximity, growth for all businesses can occur. I often describe economic development as Tetris: guiding the right pieces to fall into the right place at the right time, without having much control, but just one success keeps us trying!
A great example of business recruitment is how Grober Nutrition, a Canadian company, built a plant next door to Cayuga Milk Ingredients (CMI), in the Cayuga County Industrial Development Park in Aurelius. Where CMI manufactures powdered milk for human consumption, Grober does the same for animal consumption. The company had an established relationship with CMI and found an opportunity in CMI’s dairy processing stream. Grober has been adding ingredients to that underutilized stream and processing it into milk-replacer for baby animals (calves, lambs, kid-goats, foals, piglets, and various zoological species), and now employs 47 people.
A great example of a successful CEDA connection, where the businesses are not as related, is Du Mond Grain, LLC and Prosto Wind Power. Last year, when Du Mond Grain was planning their business expansion with non-solvent soybean processing, it was identified that they would need additional electricity, which could mean electrical infrastructure improvements. Meanwhile, Prosto Wind Power was planning to set up a test site for their vertical-axis wind turbine in a nearby county where engineers would perform their tests. With Du Mond Ag being sustainability-minded, and having a need for more electricity, it was a good match to connect the two. The turbine is soon to be fully operational in Fleming where it is not only being tested, but the power will be used, and it has the potential to stay long-term. It was more cost-effective to have the engineers travel to the turbine for testing, rather than moving the 46’ tall and 21-ton structure, twice.
“Du Mond Grain is happy to be the research site of the 1st wind turbine of its kind in the US. Maureen brought the idea to the table and we are very appreciative of the connection; it aligns well with our mission and culture of environmental stewardship.”
– Crystina Brooks, Solutions Manager at Du Mond Grain, LLC.
CEDA’s focus is certainly Cayuga County, but we also keep an eye open to the opportunities that are “close enough”. Occasionally, a site selection request comes across for which Cayuga County doesn’t have the right site or building, but if I know of a site in a neighboring county that might work, I’ll refer them to that EDO. If the business locates there, they would potentially employ people from our county and that still fits our mission of creating jobs and a sustainable quality of life.
CEDA has been making a big impact in our county, but our goal is to connect with more businesses to help everyone grow. With more collaboration from our existing businesses, we can target the right suppliers and customers, recruit more businesses, create more jobs, and create a sustainable quality of life for all residents. Meeting with CEDA is free and confidential and we welcome all ideas. You’ll never know what connections we can make, until you get in touch with CEDA.