September 21, 2020

“You can’t grow long-term if you can’t eat short-term. Anybody can manage short. Anybody can manage long. Balancing those two things is what management is.” 
-Jack Welch

Predictions are a dime a dozen right now, and I hesitate to suggest one – but I will anyway. The next 18 months will see some of the most important location decisions in the past 20 years. As businesses have been forced to face the performance of their facilities, the cities and states they operate in, and their workforce, tough decisions must be confronted. In some cases, this is being done to save the business, to sell assets and procure needed cash to weather the storm, while others are making bold moves to take market share from weaker competitors. Seemingly everything is on the table and the consequences for both the companies and communities will have a lasting impact on the future.

A recent article from McKinsey & Company asks “What now? Decisive actions to emerge stronger in the next normal?”. Among the suggested actions are to “reimagine the workforce from the top down” and to “rethink the global footprint.” For business, this is necessary to take advantage of the opportunities being created by the crisis. For communities it is both an opportunity and a huge risk. High cost locations will likely be supplanted by more competitive alternatives. Areas with a limited and/or compromised workforce will be forced to address gaps in supplying a tech-savvy, highly adaptable workforce. There will be scrutiny on the cost of business state to state and city to city like never before, and government will need to find creative ways to respond.

I would suggest that both global business and the public competition for jobs and investment will be ratcheted up in the coming months and years. My advice is to stay focused, embrace the opportunity to compete, and balance the short and long-term objectives carefully.

Let’s go get it this week.

-Kenny McDonald