Blog Contributor: Barry Matherly, President & CEO, Hickey Global Economic Development Consulting
In the dynamic world of site selection, there are few corporate advisors as innovative and experienced as Jason and David Hickey, the brothers leading the global location advisory firm, Hickey.
As a member of the Hickey family of advisory companies, the brothers recently sat down with our editorial team for a brief conversation on the industry’s evolution, impact on them, and why they love to do what they do.
What do you like about Site Selection?
Site selection brings together a specialized blend of data science, bespoke modeling, and direct experience unparalleled in the consulting world. We wake up every day to face a new challenge ahead of us – which could range from trying to benchmark software engineering talent in Boston versus Bangalore to determine if the power availability to a site is adequate for a facility. It is also a rare space where we get to see the end product come to life in front of us, have the opportunity to create jobs, and promote economic development in communities around the world.
How did you both get into the Site Selection business?
We both joined the firm as teenagers supporting our father with very mundane, but important tasks, such as document sorting, data research, and web design. Over the next couple decades, we had the opportunity to learn from true site selection pioneers while leading the industry’s revolution into the digital age (and beyond).
What is a Site Selection trend you are closely tracking?
Great question – difficult to just choose one! If there is one single critical location factor we are evaluating for every project it is labor availability. Assessing to the site level to ensure the right people will be available to ultimately get the job done is vital. By Leveraging predictive analytics and social media data we’re taking it to another level now to understand the talent pipeline well into the future, too.
Coming out of the pandemic, we’re also closely tracking migratory patterns around the world. While we’re still too early to clearly define how we’ll return to “normal”, we do know that millions have moved from the likes of New York City, San Francisco, and London…how will that affect those labor markets in the long term? How about the markets where they left for?
Favorite site visit story?
Jason: I’ll never forget my rainy day in Southeast Georgia story. We were out touring a number of sites for a greenfield manufacturing project. To say the sites were water-logged would be a major understatement! With the client in our rented SUV, we found ourselves stuck in the thick mud about a 1/4 mile off the main road. Thankfully, the county officials had a backhoe not too far away to dig us out of the mess. Not sure the agent at the rental car drop-off was excited to see us later that day, but the client was happy as we still managed to stay on time with the additional contingency windows we always include for site tours!
David: Confidentiality is critical in our business. When we go on site tours, especially earlier in the process, we often withhold the client’s company name. Sometimes our clients like to have a little fun with it! One of my favorite stories was during a site tour in Birmingham, England. Alongside the client team, we visited roughly ten existing light manufacturing facilities across the Midlands. As the day went on and we met with various landlords and broker representatives, the client team thought it’d be good fun to challenge each other by having new names at each location. Staying short of putting on Groucho Marx disguises, let’s just say they were very creative as we went from shed to shed around Brum!
Questions economic developers should always ask you?
We truly enjoy discussing local and regional trends with economic developers as we travel around the world on behalf of our clients. There are fascinating micro-economic factors driving wage inflation, skill attainment, business costs and other aspects of a project that only local leaders would know and understand.
Do you still like living in NYC (Post COVID)?
New York is one of the world’s best cities. Like many others, we witnessed the devastating effects the pandemic had on businesses and residents alike, and the resilience and perseverance of countless New Yorkers to forge ahead.
Today, across the city there are hundreds of restaurants offering outdoor dining, miles of closed pedestrian-only streets, and active, world-class parks propelling the Big Apple into a new era of live, work and play lifestyle.