“Rubbing the Crystal Ball”
2020 was a challenging year that most of us would prefer to put in the rear-view mirror. Economic development in Washington County, however, continued to be strong. Significant development projects in 2020 added 103 new jobs and resulted in more than $29,169,837 in new capital investment.
While companies had to adapt in 2020, abundant opportunity lies ahead for 2021.
The Top 5 Things to Know for 2021
1. Labor market
The prospect of the economy is tied to the successful rollout of Covid-19 vaccines. Nationally, the labor market had shown consistent signs of improvement after the economic lockdowns were relaxed beginning in May 2020. But nonfarm payroll employment fell unexpectedly in December as the virus spiked in the last two months of 2020. https://www.marquette.edu/business/economics/
With widespread COVID vaccinations on the horizon, it should generate a boon to the economy. The latest Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank survey indicates the economy likely contracted 3.5% in 2020 but predicts a 4% growth in real GDP in 2021. https://www.philadelphiafed.org/surveys-and-data/real-time-data-research/inflation-forecasts
2. Talent attraction
The spike in remote work over the next year will allow people to take their talents to wherever they can be maximized. This presents a great opportunity for companies to capture talent that is on the move. New technologies are creating new jobs and altering existing ones at a constant pace. This means companies need to be nimble with their training programs, respond quickly to shifts, and emphasize reskilling and upskilling. A good place to look at is the service sector worker who has been hardest hit by pandemic closures. With strong human skills such as communication, problem-solving, and teamwork, these workers are in a prime spot to combine their current skills with new technical skills. This combination of human and technical skills creates the versatile worker sought by many employers. Talent Attraction in 2021 – Emsi (economicmodeling.com)
3. Sites must be truly “shovel ready” to be considered in the game.
Companies in 2021 are looking to move at the speed of business, typically within 60-90 days to strike while the iron is hot. For a location to be considered there can’t be any “what ifs” or unknowns with the sites having agreements in place and being certified. Truly plug and play opportunities. https://www.edwc.org/site-selection-workforce-analytics/
4. Lease not own
Exponential increase in the number of major companies focused on operations and not viewing real estate as an asset. This is being driven by rapid growth and high return expectations of today’s investor community. Developers who build and lease are the new target market, not corporate C-Suite. Expect less competing for deals, but rather working directly with end-users and competing by proxy through developers.
5. Large, single-owner sites will get noticed
Lease deals are getting bigger and longer creating an emergence of “mega-manufacturing” facilities designed as global centers of production and excellence. These facilities are more than distribution, incorporating numerous other specialty activities of new technology (assembly, IT, real-time product customization). The ideal profile of 100 acres and 1M SF, the inventory is drying up, with virtually no 100-acre shovel-ready sites available. The advantages of Washington County are now recognized by the market (tap into multiple labor sheds, healthy manufacturing environment, good mix of industries and skills, visible success in Holy Hill corridor).