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A career in locational decisions?

Hceux

Cyburbian
Messages
1,028
Points
22
I'm wondering if any of you have any experience or knowledge to share about the field that involve helping clients to decide where they should locate their business, industrial plants, retail stores, and/or home(s). For example, where should Wal-Mart locate its new store in a town without a Wal-Mart so that they don't have to do the horrid task of abandoning their first Wal-Mart for a newer Wal-Mart?

What does it involve? Is there any particular education background that is useful for this field? How does a person get involved in this field?

Do clients ever want a detailed analysis or do they just want a general guideline?
 

ludes98

Cyburbian
Messages
1,264
Points
22
I have done this for a large national company. It was an internal company function. My background in planning/land use was acceptable, but the director was a graduate of my program...:) Having done statistic and demographic will help. I worked on a relocation study for a minor league baseball team doing data collection. Every company I have interviewed with was interested in this project.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Retail site selection is a bit easier to break into than industrial. Some of the chains will hire recent grads for the work, but I also note that the jobs are very routine and they don't have much say over the actual decision - it takes a few years to advance to the point of actually going out and locating sites.

The site selection industry in economic development is largely drawn from the accounting profession. Geography is only a part of the picture. The locational decision is really a cost decision, and it seems the accountants have a lock on it. I have seen very few economic developers make that transition, and only after more than twenty years of experience.
 

Hceux

Cyburbian
Messages
1,028
Points
22
So, what are some of the better ways of entering into careers related to the field of deciding or helping a corporation to decide where would be the optimal location for a retail/industrial activity?
 

Rumpy Tunanator

Cyburbian
Messages
4,473
Points
25
Are you refering to "Retail Geography"?

One of my part-time teachers does that for a living, mainly for financial institutions, and I hear its realatively lucrative. If that's what your refering to.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Hceux said:
So, what are some of the better ways of entering into careers related to the field of deciding or helping a corporation to decide where would be the optimal location for a retail/industrial activity?
Well, sadly, it is mostly done by accountants. That could be an avenue for you, if you can tolerate the accounting career you would need to establish to get your feet in the door. I work on the other side of the game, as an economic developer. Planning is a great background for that, and I still spend at least half of my time on planning issues, mostly redevelopment and planning for commercial, office or industrial development, though I still get to have input into parks, housing, etc. Most economic developers are more heavily focused on marketing and business attraction and retention programs. At the state level, there are people who do little more than work with businesses and site consultants to attempt to find them sites.

Retail is somewhat different. Many of the large chains have a research or real estate department that identifies new markets and evaluates potential locations. A degree in economic geography is a good start for this work. If you can add knowledge of GIS and a real estate license, you are even better off. There are entry-level opportunities here, unlike industrial site selection. I did this for a short time, but found it to be awful (no challenges, working conditions I could not stand, ethical issues... an ugly experience).

There are likely industrial site consultants near you, and perhaps a few retail headquarters as well. I know I have met a few Canadians at different functions and can try to get a couple names to you. If retail interests you, contact the International Council of Shopping Centers. Perhaps you can work a deal of some sort with them to be able to attend the annual deal-making session in Las Vegas. There are others, but something like 20,000 developers, retail site specialists and real estate representives, and economic developers descend on Vegas for a week, where an incredible percentage of all new leases are signed. It is a great place to see the industry in action.
 
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