ATLANTA — Location, location, location – the traditional real estate mantra – is being replaced in the manufacturing sector by a new battle cry: people, people, people.
The number one priority for companies seeking to locate manufacturing operations is access to labor, according to a new white paper released by CoreNet Global, the premier association for corporate real estate executives. And that is reshaping the role that corporate real estate executives can play in site location.
"The biggest trend hands down in every sector that we work in is having the workforce to meet the needs of the company in the short-term, mid-term and long-term over the next 25 years," said Del Boyette, president and CEO of Boyette Strategic Advisors, a consulting firm with offices in Atlanta and Little Rock, Ark. "You can have all the infrastructure in place, the perfect building and the perfect site. But if you don't have the workforce to support that business unit long-term, then the investment cannot be made at that site," he said.
One of the biggest workforce challenges for manufacturers is overcoming the skills gap. Although output has continued to increase, manufacturing employment has grown more slowly, in part due to technology and automation. The workforce needed to fill today's manufacturing jobs needs to be more skilled, but high school students in the U.S. are not being educated and trained to go into the manufacturing sector.
And, a lot is at stake for localities seeking to land big manufacturing plants. Due to foreign investment, "re-shoring" of jobs back to the U.S. and domestic investment, U.S. manufacturing is moving forward on a path of slow and steady growth. Industrial output grew at a rate of 3.5% in 2015 and 3.9% in 2016 with an annual growth of 3.26% predicted over the next 5 years, according to the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI).
The report says that corporate real estate (CRE) professionals play a key supporting role in the site selection process, which increasingly involves a large team representing a myriad of different functions such as real estate, HR, legal, governmental affairs, IT, tax department and internal and external communications. CRE is often tasked with coordinating the process or managing the input from all of these different stakeholders.
Rather than just being a pass-through for information from different departments, CRE professionals can play an active role in filtering those internal requests and oftentimes managing the different wants and needs of different stakeholders with what is realistic and achievable, said Kate McEnroe, owner of McEnroe Consulting in Chicago.
About CoreNet Global
CoreNet Global is the world's leading professional association for corporate real estate (CRE) and workplace executives, service providers and economic developers. CoreNet Global's 10,000 members, who include 70% of the top 100 U.S. companies and nearly half of the Global 2000, meet locally, globally and virtually to develop networks, share knowledge, learn and thrive professionally. For more information, please visit www.corenetglobal.org.