SITE SELECTOR is the joint product venture between globally renowned Duff & Phelps and investment platform StageXchange. The two companies officially teamed up in February of 2019 with the mutual goal of decreasing the risk and level of effort that is applied to corporate site selection. As Forbes pointed out in its article(“The Best States for Business”) the nature of site selection quickly went from a quiet, people-heavy approach to more of a “sweepstakes” environment in 2018. Without naming names the highly publicized headquarter search did flip the rulebook on the process. Although there are still big companies like Apple who prefer to keep their selection activities out of the public domain, more and more companies are willing to be transparent about their search in the hopes of soliciting bids and removing some of the risk in site selection. Store Dot is one such company and their selection process will be the first pilot auction conducted completely within the Site Selector platform.
StoreDot Ltd. is a leader in the innovation of materials and their device applications, exciting investors like Samsung and Daimler Benz. The company develops groundbreaking materials based on a unique methodology that integrates nanotechnology with novel organic compounds. The company has made its mark on the global stage by dramatically improving the value proposition for a range of devices, including Smartphones, power banks and Electric Vehicles. Designed to replace known technologies with enhanced physical, chemical, and electrical properties, StoreDot’s technology is optimized for fast-charging batteries for both mobile devices and electric vehicles. [i]
The company is currently looking for a location for their OneGiga™ factory. The facility is planned to be located on a 150,000m2 property (ramping in 2022) with initial manufacturing capacity of 1GWh, scalable to 10GWh. This facility will likely generate 1400 jobs and over $400 million in regional investment. This is an incredible opportunity for any state and will be an excellent test case for a platform that excited hundreds of EDOs and companies when it was exhibited at SelectUSA.
SITESelector is unique in its ability to present proposals from communities in the same electronic environment as due diligence and de-risking tools. It was designed to meet a 3-part process: Identify, Analyze, and Select. The AI assisted matchmaking tool utilizes a company’s site requirements to create a short list of target locations. Those locations can be analyzed using interactive pro formas and financial models that compare and rank hundred of potential sites a company might consider. Selectors will then review the incentives and make their decision based off of the most up-to-date business intelligence available. Surprisingly, the best site match may not include any incentives at all. A location like Austin, TX fosters a business climate that is almost magnetic and incentives are not necessary to attract investment and job creation to their community.
“Having all of the information compiled in one place is the object of any site selection team,” explains Gregory Burkart of Duff & Phelps. “I have attempted many times to create a tool like the one StageXchange brought to the table. We needed a clear-cut process to get from Point A to Point B and we needed the right data to guide it. SITESelector is going to make a huge impact on this industry because it will exponentially reduce the level of effort and risk involved in making a site selection decision.”
SITESelector created a buzz at Select USA with EDOs and economic partnerships because of its potential to equalize the playing field. While the tool was designed to reduce effort for investors, it is perhaps the EDO side of the house that will receive the most benefit. The AI’s lack of bias enables smaller regions to demonstrate their unique value and finally compete with larger metropolitan areas. Economic development marketing is costly and time-consuming, forcing smaller EDOs to reduce workforce in order to maintain expensive websites and pay for ads to run on LinkedIn and site selection magazines. The tool reverses this trend by offering a free listing of opportunities within the site, thus reducing the amount of money spent by economic development teams. Using a certain HQ2 search as an example of how the tool could save a state millions each year, the State of Virginia spent $2 million dollars pitching their site. Should the state wish to pitch to StoreDot Virginia taxpayers would be happy to know that they ended up paying nothing for that same process, as it would be performed completely within the tool itself.
With only a few weeks since the expo, the SITESelector team has been up to its elbows fielding inquiries from EDOs and partnerships hoping to be a part of the beta test. In spite of this positive reception from EDOs, the team expects some backlash from the site selection community.
“Shifts in technology are usually met with some resistance at first,” says StageXchange CEO Keith Hopkins. “People worry if endorsing the technology will result in their own job going away. But the hard truth is that it is better to be an early adopter of that technology so you can figure out how to make it benefit you because technology advances whether you like it or not.”
Hopkins explains that they believe that the tool can be used by existing teams to reduce level of effort on the search end so that those hours can be utilized elsewhere. By streamlining analysis and due diligence more hours and discussion can then be allocated to the decision-making phase. “That is where technology cannot replace human involvement,” he says. “Ultimately it is a person who makes that final call.”