CEDC mulling use of site selector

Paul Kelly

CUMBERLAND — Officials with the Cumberland Economic Development Corp. are considering soliciting the services of a site selector to help match businesses in the mid-Atlantic and Midwest to opportunities available in the Cumberland area.

Cities across America use site selectors to help match startups or businesses seeking to expand to opportunities in a given municipality. Site selectors provide an insider’s view of the industry, analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the building or land being marketed and seek matches.

The core capability of a site selector is to help clients translate strategic plans into concrete location choices and actions.

“There is a pool of professionals who all day, every day, work for corporations and the business sector to find locations for them,” said CEDC Executive Director Paul Kelly during the group’s Tuesday meeting. “It usually begins with a scan of demographics following up by geographic information system mapping services.”

Essentially a consultant, a site selector acts as a guide, mediator and confidant. The site selector combines an in-market investigation, including interviews with other companies, educators, recruiters and other knowledgeable parties, with demographic data and sophisticated mapping tools to create a regional profile. 

The fieldwork typically culminates in a single preferred recommendation and perhaps one or two alternates.

“We should seriously consider hiring a site selector that could define for us how the industry operates per an insider’s perspective and could assess strengths and weaknesses of our area from a site selector viewpoint, and then could suggest things for us to do in terms in marketing what we have and where we’re going for site selectors,” said Kelly.

Kelly said the city of Cumberland and Allegany County government have not used site selectors previously.

William Freas, CEDC board member, asked if the site selector’s role was to help identify potential customers.

Kelly confirmed that was the case. “That is the end game and we will be able to position ourselves to acquire those folks,” Kelly said. “Now, there will be deviation with light manufacturing, banking, housing, etcetera, but I believe there are certain things all of them do.”

Board member Barry Ronan said the idea should be done in concert with Allegany County government.

Cumberland Mayor Ray Morriss, who’s also a board member, agreed.

“We are so intertwined ... anything we do affects the county and anything they do affects the city. To have a site selector’s input would really help the both of us,” Morris said.

Follow staff writer Greg Larry on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.

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