by Pete Julius

Headquarter relocation strategies are an effective and efficient way to recruit talent into a community, if properly planned and executed. Many economic development organizations across the country have adopted some sort of headquarter strategy. They salivate over the types of jobs that a new headquarter relocation would bring to their respective communities. For starters, employees at a headquarter location are typically well paid. This is due to the high level of skill sets, education and training required for the types of positions that exist at a headquarter facility. In addition to generating jobs, the relocation of a company’s high-level executives and managers to the new headquarter location is economically appealing. Of course, headquarter facilities also generate a lot of revenue that winds up circulating in the local economy.

According to Conway Data Scoreboard, a total of 1,651 businesses have relocated their headquarters to brand-new facilities from 1999-2005 (first quarter). This number does not include headquarter expansions. The table below provides a list of the top ten industries establishing new headquarter facilities between 1999 and the 1 st quarter of 2005. All announcements in the table represent an investment of at least $1 million, 50 employees, or 20,000 square feet. Most of the activity has occurred in service-and knowledge-based industries. Only four of the industries in the table are manufacturing-based.

NAICS NAICS Code Description # of Announcements
541Professional & Scientific Services277
334Computer & Electronic Product Mfg.104
336Transportation Equip. Mfg.68
325Chemical Mfg.64
524Insurance Carriers & Related Activities56
514Information Services and Data Processing Services52
513Broadcasting and Telecommunications51
333Machinery Mfg.49
522Credit Intermediate & Related Activities49
523Securities Contracts & Investments41

Headquarter recruitment strategies are a little more difficult than traditional business recruitment. For starters, there are far fewer headquarter relocations than any other type of relocation, whether it be a manufacturing, office, service or warehousing and distribution facility. As a result, headquarter recruitment strategies require a lot of work and patience, an important realization for anyone thinking of giving them a try. Headquarter relocations are typically very unorthodox and must be kept confidential because of the risks associated with moving a headquarters.

As with other recruitment strategies, communities must first understand their strengths, weaknesses, assets, challenges, needs, desires and competitive advantages before attempting to recruit a company’s headquarters. Essentially, you will need to create a profile of the type of company headquarters that you would like to recruit into your community. More importantly, this profile should also include the feasibility of recruiting such a facility. The best way to start to compile this profile is to look at your most recent targeted-industry study. The industries recommended in the study, if done properly, represent the industries with the greatest potential success for a business-recruitment strategy. Once the profile is complete, make sure that you have a sound implementation plan, and remember that this will be a long-term strategy. One of the most difficult but rewarding challenges is to develop solid, trusting relationships with both the executive in charge of the headquarter relocation and the company itself.