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Site consultant grades Muskogee for economic development

Muskogee Phoenix
July 21, 2015
D. E. Smoot | Phoenix Staff Writer

Firm's assessment higher than that given by local business leaders

A site consultant retained to evaluate the local climate for industrial development and recommend target sectors for recruiting purposes graded the Muskogee market more generously than business leaders.

TadZo Consulting, a site-selection and economic-development firm based in Yakima, Wash., facilitated an economic development seminar sponsored earlier this year by the Muskogee City-County Port Authority. The event offered some insight about the factors site consultants consider when determining whether a community would be a good fit for a company’s expansion or relocation plans.

Participants who attended the seminar assigned letter grades for 10 factors typically considered during the site evaluation process employed by companies considering expansion or relocation plans. On a 4-point scale, seminar participants awarded an overall score of 2.06, a solid C, meaning they saw the Muskogee market as neither competitive nor fundamentally lacking when it comes to courting new companies.

TadZo consultants delved a little deeper during a subsequent study, the findings of which were released in June, evaluating 18 factors instead of 10. Consultants awarded an overall grade of 2.93, or a B-, meaning the area has some competitive advantages, but some key elements are missing.

Port authority directors retained TadZo Consulting to conduct a “bottom-up assessment” of the Muskogee market from the perspective of site consultants. The analysis will be used to develop a strategic recruiting plan to lure companies looking for what the immediate area has to offer and what is needed.

While the overall scores varied somewhat, the areas of concern cited by consultants in June and business leaders in January overlapped to some extent. Business leaders cited a need for improvement when it comes to the availability of real estate, human capital and resources conducive to innovation while consultants cited training resources for human capital and the lack of a communitywide sustainability plan as shortcomings.

With regard to training resources for prospective workers, consultants found "no direct pipeline of specific skills with local employers." While local educational institutions exist locally, consultants found them "to be underutilized" when it comes to providing opportunities "to significantly enhance skill development to world-class competitive levels."

Consultants awarded a C to the Muskogee market with regard to the available labor pool and cited four factors that make it difficult to attract new talent. Those factors include "a tight housing market, limited retail and amenities" along with "very poor" curb appeal and concerns about the quality of elementary and secondary education.

Transportation by rail and water, the Port of Muskogee and the local business climate earned the highest rankings, all of which earned an A- from TadZo consultants. Business leaders also scored those factors highly, but they awarded nothing higher than a B+ for any of the factors evaluated during the January seminar.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.

Source: http://www.muskogeephoenix.com/news/local_news/site-consultant-grades-muskogee-for-economic-development/article_c2537335-da99-530a-99c4-48be9bde4db9.html

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