Not whether it’s hot, or rains a lot, or snows too much.
No, I’m curious about the overall business climate there. Is yours the only racing company in the area, or are there others nearby that play in the same sandbox? And how does that square with your local government and/or chamber of commerce? Are they supportive? Do they take an active interest in what you do?
Do you get the feeling they’re happy you’re around, or does it seem like they’d rather have another CVS there instead?
These were some of the questions we set out to answer in this month’s feature on Motorsports Business-Friendly Zones, which begins on page 80 and turned out to be a really interesting, insightful report.
In it, writer Steve Statham explored several commercial areas across the country in order to uncover why and how they’ve become so appealing—and accommodating—to racing-related businesses.
Some make perfect sense: As home to the Indy 500, Indianapolis and surrounding areas like Brownsburg will naturally attract like-minded operators. But for others, factors like the availability of skilled local labor can make a world of difference.
As Samantha Grass with Cabarrus Economic Development in Kannapolis, North Carolina, explained, “There is a steady pipeline of talent, from high school career academies all the way up to engineering programs at UNCC and the community colleges, that make it easy for our race shops to hire the folks they need. When we talk to HR at places like Hendrick and Stewart-Haas and NASCAR, they are not having the kind of staffing problems we hear about in other communities, even in the tight labor market.”
Similar accounts were shared by our contacts from the City of Delaware, Ohio, and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership in Richmond, Virginia.
But it doesn’t end there—not by a long shot. City of Delaware’s Sean Hughes, for example, detailed several programs and incentives his group offers to help promote development, from tax abatements to performance-based economic grants to assistance with infrastructure.
“We manage every project like it’s our own,” Hughes told us. “We call ourselves ‘business concierges.’ So we’ll sit down with that company or developer and work all the way through the process from beginning to end, until they get their occupancy permit to open the doors.”
This article was an eye-opener, no question about it, and I encourage you to give it a close look as you review this September issue. Even if you’re not in position right now to pack up your tent and head for greener pastures, it’s helpful to know that such pastures do exist, as well as what’s being done there to actively improve the climate for businesses like yours.