"They Know More About You Than You Do": Theorizing the Role of Site Selectors in the Context of Local Geographies of Economic Development

Authors: Joel Jennings*, Saint Louis University, Francis Reyes, United Nations Development Program
Topics: Economic Geography, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: Site selection, economic development, consultants, intermediaries, information
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 38
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Site selection consultants are an increasingly central part of the economic development process. As mediators between firms, local economic developers, and the communities they represent, consultants often have significant influence over where a firm chooses to locate their operations. While their contributions are recognized both among practitioners and scholars, there has been limited efforts to examine the theoretical underpinnings of their work. This study seeks to extend a recent group of studies (Phelps and Woods 2017) which offers valuable insights into ways that site selectors create markets for information and as intermediaries provide value to corporations and their stockholders. Drawing on 30 interviews with practitioners from across the State of Missouri, this investigation examines the ways local economic developers conceptualize the roles that consultants play in the site selection process. Our findings suggest than rather than creating adversarial relationships with local developers, site selection consultants offer mediation and professional relationships with economic developers that help raising the profile of communities and may help business attraction efforts.

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