A Good Business Climate

By Debbie Rauen, Legendary Hills Communications

If you were relocating your manufacturing plant, and your key customer groups were in a wide range of geographic clusters, how would you decide where to move?

That was the situation facing Highwood Global Manufacturing, a company making whole machines and machine parts for a number of industries.

The company’s corporate office is in Calgary, B.C., but with 90% of their clients in the United States they decided to relocate the manufacturing portion of their business across the border.

“We looked at Texas and Oklahoma to be close to our gas and oil customers, at Arizona and Utah for our mining customers, at Kansas for aerospace, and at Washington for our marine and aerospace customers,” says Highwood Global Manufacturing President Kevin Kerr.

“Given that no one location made sense for all of our needs, a deal breaker was finding an existing facility and an available skilled workforce. Greater Spokane Incorporated was able to come up with the right combination to have us choose Spokane.”

Stan Key, one of GSI’s business relocation specialists, was able to show Kevin a recently closed manufacturing facility, one whose former employees had the right set of skills to meet Highwood Global’s needs. And the last puzzle piece clicked into place.

Highwood Global leased the building and many of the former employees were able to find good jobs with them.

Of course, Spokane had to meet their other criteria as well, including having a good cost of living and quality of life – “a place people are willing to move to,” says Kevin.

It didn’t hurt that the cost of doing business in our area is 18% less than the U.S. average, says Stan.

Kevin also cited Spokane’s direct flights to their headquarters in Calgary and other regions where they frequently travel.

Kevin says GSI was helpful in many ways. “They provided me with lists of potential vendors, information on the local tax structure, and lots of referrals to people to help me get the business set up.”

“The move to Spokane has been very positive. The labor pool is good and cost effective. Spokane has great access to the west coast and Canada, and the transportation routes are reasonably economical and quick to access,” Kevin adds. “For businesses serving the Pacific Northwest, there’s no better place to be.”

“What a lot of people don’t realize,” says Stan, “is that the same factors that draw a business here are what makes a good business climate for those already in the Spokane region. When we improve our business climate, it benefits existing companies as well as our recruitment efforts. And drawing new companies to our area is good for local businesses, from realtors to retail to entertainment and more.”

To learn more about Highwood Global and their manufacturing, machining and fabrication capabilities, go to



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