Meet the team that signs our 5-star industrial recruits.
With the October, 2015 announcement that Yorozu Corp. had selected Jasper as the site to build a $101 million advanced metal stamping facility, the Walker County Development Authority and the Jasper Industrial Development Board celebrated their fourth auto-industry recruiting victory. Proving, yet again, that when it comes to attracting first-rate industry, our community can compete with anyone.
The Right Stuff
“The thing about industrial recruitment,” Development Authority Executive Director David Knight explains, “you either have what a company needs or you don’t. There has to be a fit between their needs and your resources. “Recruiting isn’t about pushing a sale, it’s about listening to the needs of the prospect and working to develop a relationship that will be mutually beneficial for the company and the community.”
So how does David and his team know what companies like Yorozu want? They do their homework, and they listen. They analyze the economic landscape, looking for trends — as well as the kinds of companies likely to expand in the near future. Specifically, growing companies who’d be a good match for our area. And, of course, they spend a lot of time working their contacts (and the proverbial grapevine) for information and leads.
The Tricky Part
In his line of work, David will tell you, even the best information will get you only so far. At some point, you have to actually create marketable resources and facilities — and to paraphrase a famous Hollywood cliché, there’s no guarantee that “if you build it, they will come.” Of course, says David, “if you don’t build it they won’t even look.”
It’s a leap of faith. At the same time, in Yorozu’s case, “we already knew that Walker County is within 250 miles of ten US-based automotive plants. And we had a good idea of what auto-suppliers want in this part of the country. That’s why we worked with and encouraged the Jasper Industrial Development Board and the City of Jasper to develop a 50-acre graded site in the Jasper Industrial Park that Yorozu ultimately selected.”
All Together Now
David is quick to point-out that The Development Authority is just one part of a much bigger team. “Here in Walker County, we have an extraordinary support network of organizations working together. Without them, we would not have enjoyed near the success we’ve had in recent years.”
“Teamwork is the key to our success. The Development Authority, the Jasper Industrial Development Board and the City of Jasper all work together to make sure we are prepared to meet the needs of prospective industries. The Mayor and City Council have provided consistent, and substantial, funding to promote product development and marketing efforts — and their investment has paid off in the form of new and expanding companies like Yorozu, HTNA, Nitto Denko, DAPA Products and Mar-Jac Poultry.
What’s In It For Me? Thanks For A Job Well Done.
Volunteers serving the Jasper Industrial Development Board and the Walker County Development Authority represent a broad cross-section of local citizens—from bankers and attorneys to business leaders. “People whose sole motivation in serving is the success of their communities. The one goal of both Boards is to grow the economy and create jobs.”
Just The Numbers
Walker County’s success in the Automotive industry alone has produced a combined windfall for our community of over $150 million in capital investment, and created some 550 quality local jobs — including a hiring commitment of at least 300 for the Yorozu project alone.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Delay.
Not surprisingly, confidentiality is a way of life in the economic development world. “The vast majority of projects we work don’t even share their company name during the first couple visits. Most projects are codenamed, and that code name will be used until the project makes their final site selection. Yorozu’s was Project Stamp, and they didn’t identify themselves by name until they’d conducted multiple site visits.”
At the same time, David’s team is routinely expected to put on its best face with minimal advance notice. “Company scouts may visit seven to eight sites in a single day. It’s common to have only a couple days to get prepared and we’ve had many requests to tour sites ‘right now’ — with no advanced notice.”
All of which is why David spends a lot of his time looking to the future, always at the ready to expect the unexpected. Speaking of the future, what can the good people of Walker County expect next from the efforts of the Development Authority and the Jasper Industrial Board? “Sorry,” David replies “that’s confidential.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT THESE SITES:
Walker County Development Authority
Jasper Industrial Development Board
At the 2016 Yorozu Groundbreaking ceremony (Photo by Ron Harris – Daily Mountain Eagle)
HTNA’s (Hayashi Telempu) new state of the art 150,000 square foot production facility.
David Knight (Photo by Arik Sokol)