Doug Lawyer: Experts Predict Industrial Vacancy Improvement
Shortly after celebrating BHS Corrugated’s groundbreaking at Hardin Business Park, Rhonda Rice, the Chamber’s executive vice president and I left East Tennessee for a summit called CoreNet in Orlando, Florida.
CoreNet Global’s fall summit features more than 1,500 of the top corporate real estate decision makers in the world and gives us, as Chamber staff, the opportunity to meet and market available properties in the Innovation Valley region and keep our fingers on the pulse of global trends and possible company movement.
In fact, at CoreNet we had extensive conversations with one Dallas based site consultant. This individual is working on behalf of a manufacturer and has already started an analysis that includes East Tennessee. We’re hopeful to continue building that relationship and hopefully getting a closer look as this particular project moves forward.
There is some other good news according to the experts at the conference: industrial vacancy rates are declining across the United States. I believe our local rates will follow that trend and some of the facilities we have had on the market for three-to-four years will start to see increased interest and eventually be purchased. Within the past few months, we are already experiencing more requests for information and property inquiries than we saw 2009-2011. As of today, our local industrial vacancy rate hovers around 8% while our office vacancy rate is around 9%.
A number of the sessions at CoreNet were directly applicable to what we do as Chamber staff while working to drive economic development in the area. Effective community/company partnerships, developing human capital and an effective workforce, the future of U.S. manufacturing, and the role of financial incentives in location decision making were just a few of the topics discussed.
Executives from a number of well-known companies, like Coca-Cola, Whirlpool, and Lockheed Martin led the sessions and provided real insight into we should expect as we market and recruit new companies to the Innovation Valley.
Another key component of the CoreNet event was a private reception held by the Tennessee Economic Partnership for business leaders and site selection consultants. I have the privilege this year of serving as Chair of this entity which helps the State of Tennessee market itself as a great place to do business.
All-in-all, CoreNet provided a good experience for us to showcase what the Innovation Valley has to offer while helping maintain the relationships we work tirelessly to build with site selection professionals around the country.
Doug Laywer is the Knoxville Chamber’s vice president of economic development. He works closely with site selection consultants and business leaders from across the globe to promote the Knoxville-area and help brings jobs to the Innovation Valley.