Location, Location, Location
To say that Austin Consulting is all about the location is to state the obvious. However, for Location Consultant Kyle Johnson there is more to location than meets the eye. Johnson’s real-time, in-depth information on potential site locations provides clients with the data necessary to make important site selection decisions and gives them an edge to get the project deliverables quicker than ever before.
To do this, Kyle has mastered technology tools such as ESRI, EMSI, and CoStar. The valuable information these applications provide gives Austin the tools to advise clients quickly on everything from geological information to local labor market conditions to the property listing specifics of potential locations.
ESRI is spatial mapping software, explained Johnson, “In layman’s terms, it’s a human-made system with which you are deciding how far you are from other things in terms of physical space. Like, from this spot on the map to a river.”
Using ESRI, Johnson can see a complete picture of the physical site, including topographical information. “We can look at the contours of hills, or whether the site is flat. We also look at utility locations because the client will need access to water, electricity, gas, and sewer to be operational.”
Johnson also uses ESRI to map existing site features that will impact clients. “We can identify railroads and highways, which is helpful to our clients. But we can also locate our client’s competitors relative to a site,” Johnson added. “What other manufacturers might be nearby? We map those, too. An adequate workforce, as well as the local competition for that workforce, are always big considerations.”
That’s when Johnson will employ another software program known as EMSI. This program is a labor market analysis tool that provides Austin a valuable snapshot of the local workforce.
EMSI analytics focuses on general population demographics like education, age, income and wages, and population and employment changes. But, said Johnson, it takes a much deeper dive into labor, specifically in determining how many people in a particular industry are employed in a specific region.
This sort of information is crucial to site selection, Johnson added. “We look for the location of a potential workforce physically. Maybe the nearest population center is within 15, 30, 45 minutes or an hour. We’re determining whether or not there are enough people to meet this facility’s needs. If they need 2,000 workers, selecting a site near a town of just 10,000 people may not provide our clients with sufficient workers to operate their facility.”
Johnson explained further, “A lot of this information is just not readily available to the average researcher. If we secure detailed data on workforce populations based on legitimate labor statistics, we can give our clients quite an advantage.”
EMSI also offers a deeper dive into workforce parameters by providing job-posting information. “We have real-time postings,” said Johnson. “So, we can tell our clients which businesses are hiring, how long it takes that employer to hire, and how many positions they’re looking to fill. Whatever info our client needs can be on the screen in front of us and presented to them in a matter of minutes.”
In addition to ESRI and EMSI, Austin has added CoStar to its technology arsenal, which Johnson described as “The property listing database. It’s what real estate brokers use.”
Thanks to CoStar, Austin’s site location team is now able to access valuable property information in a matter of minutes. “Before CoStar,” said Johnson, “Austin depended on individual communities to provide property information, which could not be delivered as quickly. “This allows us to see all the same information that a broker sees: transactions on a property, square footage of a building, how quickly it sold, how long it was on the market, and other site information. We can also learn about the acreage, how many floors the building has, and special features like the presence of a crane inside the structure. This information gives us a detailed snapshot upfront of what’s available.”
ESRI, EMSI, and CoStar have changed the landscape for Austin’s site location team, as well as for its clients. Working with these new tools is an ongoing task for Johnson. “I constantly keep an eye on new programs and technology being released to see if any of them can increase the advantage we provide to our clients in site selection.”
“I’m continually figuring out what’s going to be cost-efficient as well as beneficial for us,” he added. And most importantly, “All of this is proving to be immensely valuable to our clients. With the addition of these technologies, we are now able to provide more accurate information to clients more quickly than ever before.”
Get to Know Kyle Johnson, Location Consultant
Kyle brings over nine years of valuable experience in location, community, economic development, and real estate consulting to the Austin team. He maintains a strong background in research and redeveloping strategies for complex economic issues, including trade, supply chains, industry competitiveness, and business intelligence. Kyle has performed work in the food and beverage processing, agriculture, general manufacturing, consumer products, business services, healthcare, and public safety industries.
This article was first published in Results Magazine, a publication by The Austin Company.