Over the past few posts and for the next few more, we have been looking at Green Business/Industry as an economic driver and target market. The last post, we differentiated between Green Company and Green Industry (the first concerning themselves with their business impact and the later assisting others with reducing impact.) In this post, we will discuss 2 proactive steps communities can take before and while they are targeting Green Companies to a new greenfield site. We will discuss the intricacies of Green in-fill later as it comes with its own set of landmines. New sites, prospective sites, or communities targeting Green businesses have an advantage as they do not have to retrofit.
First, Green is a niche market. Though the trend is for every business to embrace some green practices, a true Green Businesses represent a very small sector. This is not meant to be disheartening; instead, it is an opportunity. If there are businesses with a deep concern for environmental and social impact looking to expand, having a boutique zoning and uniquely designed with green initiatives will be more attractive than a site where the business must do all the sustainable work itself.
So, what do Green Businesses look for in new sites?
Our advice: treat Green Businesses as you would any other sector. Study the trends, find the key factors, and plan to address them. As we see it, every business entity, including green, look for infrastructure, site studies and any risk found in the studies mitigated, a welcoming business climate, and some sort of enticement/incentive when moving or building.
Infrastructure: No business will move to a location that cannot be served in a feasible (cost effective) way. This is true of green businesses as well. On-site renewable energy, renewable focused utility providers, progressive stormwater and wastewater covenants, and mass transit to and from the site are all recent examples of information requested by green companies.
Risk mitigated: Wetlands, endangered species, cultural history, soil, and any other required studies can be done prior to a site visit by an interested party. These are of particular concern of green companies, especially if there are any issues found. Mitigating these risks may cost the community upfront, but providing official documentation that the land is ready does two things: It advances timelines for construction at least 6 months (the minimum time it takes to complete these studies) and it makes the land more marketable, thus worth more, allowing the community to recoup the investment.
We realize this is a very macro view of Green Sites, but we have often found that communities make it more complicated than necessary. Next post, we will take on Business Climate and Incentives.