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Alliance President Eric Berglund recently attended the Site Selector’s Guild Fall Forum to learn more about the latest trends in the site selection industry and to communicate that Southwest Florida is open for business following Hurricane Irma. The conference covered numerous topics, from the importance of employer interviews to new insights on the tech workforce.

Berglund said one of the key takeaways is a developing trend nationwide that affects executing site selection. Site selectors are having more difficulty with site visits in various markets because companies no longer want to help other companies move into the area. In the past, companies were generally supportive in helping to recruit another employer, but some markets are only seeing a 50 percent success rate when they talk to existing employers.

“In the old days, everyone talked about ‘the rising tide floating all boats,’ ” Berglund said. “Maybe that isn’t the case anymore, which is interesting with tight labor markets and businesses having a hard time finding employees.”

While this trend is skewing upward in other areas, Southwest Florida has a competitive advantage because generally companies are willing to work on projects and have honest conversations. Employer interviews are crucial to site selection because it validates quantitative data through qualitative means.

The forum also revealed a key insight on technology workforce success: While many companies focus on software developers in their recruitment, having a strong sales workforce is equally vital to a technology company. Efforts are continually made to develop the workforce in software development, but sales workforce is often underemphasized. Southwest Florida is fortunate to have Hodges University, which was recently named a “Top University for Professional Sales Education” by the Sales Education Foundation (SEF).

Overall, the conference provided key insights into the challenges that site selectors face today and how the Alliance can adapt to the changing environment to market the region in a way that resonates with the current trends.