Big economic development deals make headlines, but what does it take to land deals? Last week over 150 Chamber members attended Morning Network to find out what it really takes to attract and grow jobs and investment in the region.
Economic development describes many facets of work that impact businesses of all sizes, from marketing and outreach to attract new companies, working with local businesses to help them expand, providing small business assistance, fostering a culture where entrepreneurs can thrive, and ensuring that the Quad Cities has development ready sites for businesses to locate.
Many of these activities blended together in late 2015 when Kraft Heinz announced that its only major investment in North America would happen in the Quad Cities.
$200 million investment, 18 months in the making
The Quad Cities Chamber economic development team began working this project 18 months ago when it came to us as an unnamed business conducting a nationwide search for a location for its next major investment. Over the course of the next year, the team discovered that the project was for the newly formed Kraft Heinz, and that business attraction project evolved to a major effort to retain a significant local employer. In the end, Kraft Heinz chose the Quad Cities because of three reasons: we have the best workforce in the country, we had a site for them to locate, and the regional partners including the City, State, Chamber, property owners, and utility company, worked in unison to create a competitive package.
Development Ready Sites: Time is Money
The new location of Kraft Heinz will be in northwest Davenport, on a site that only months prior to the deal, had been recognized by the State of Iowa as a “certified site.” To become a certified site, the Chamber and property owners – the Greater Davenport Redevelopment Corporation - conducted due diligence amounting to 6,000 pages of land studies and plans that give companies confidence that they can immediately begin developing. Having a certified site available was a competitive factor that helped the Quad Cities secure this investment.
Local Business Growth is 80% of Economic Development
Economic development happens every day in the Quad Cities when local businesses expand or add jobs, or when an entrepreneur decides they want to take their product to market. This is at the core of what the Chamber helps companies do. Through programs like the Critical Talent Network, market research databases, Ignite Quad Cities, the Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub, and hosting of business development programs like networking events, the Chamber’s work in economic development is all about helping businesses grow.