A View into the Black Box of Industrial Recruitment

About the Author

Jonathan Morgan

Jonathan Morgan is a School of Government faculty member.

The process of recruiting business and industry, generally, is not well understood by individuals who are not directly involved in that activity.  The more specific site selection process that companies use to locate a new facility is even more mysterious to external observers.  A recent article published in Public Management written by two seasoned economic development experts in North Carolina sheds some light on the inner workings of business recruitment and site selection.  The article is written from the vantage point of a community trying to secure a new industrial project.  In the article, Pat Mitchell and Chuck Abernathy draw on their experience serving in the dual roles of county manager and economic development director, to take us inside the process.  The article illustrates the complexity, potential for conflict, and inherent tensions involved in recruiting industry, and addresses key issues such as:

  • The need to educate elected officials upfront about the process of economic development
  • Why confidentiality is required
  • What is important and who is involved at different stages of the site selection process
  • The importance of effective communication throughout the process


One Response to “A View into the Black Box of Industrial Recruitment”

  1. Billy Jones

    Too bad the writers didn’t discuss how the entire process is a mistake from the beginning. Current efforts at industrial recruitment as practiced in North Carolina depend entirely on stealing existing jobs away from other cities and states pitting one against the other in an ever increasing bidding war that puts our localities at a loss in every deal. It is in-fact: unsustainable.

    If we are to succeed at industrial recruitment then we must look for bold new ideas and become an early adopter. It’s the early adopters who blaze new trails, create new markets and get a jump start on the competition.

    Or current economic development model is geared towards real estate development. As I’ve wrote many times before, real estate development and housing starts are economic indicators, not economic drivers. The housing crash of 2008 proved me right when developers learned the hard way that a market driven by artificially high prices instead of real demand, simply wouldn’t work. Until we abandon this build it and they will come nonsense and learn to concentrate on homegrown industries that embrace bold new ideas that are not yet being chased by 49 other states and over 120 foreign countries, North Carolina will always lag behind.

    But then as long as North Carolina lags behind, people like Pat Mitchell, Chuck Abernathy and possibly yourself will never be in need of a job– right? Smiley Face ——-> 😉

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