“Time is money” to businesses looking to move or expand. If land purchases, permits, approvals, and other requirements are a long, confusing or frustrating process in our region, companies may decide to site or move their business elsewhere, taking jobs and investment with them.
Avoiding surprises is one reason businesses choose our local business and industrial parks, which are considered “shovel-ready.” We are looking for that same ease with larger, undeveloped industrial parcels in the area.
In the economic development industry, the topic of shovel-ready sites has been discussed for years. Economic development entities on the East Coast and in the southern part of the U.S. have been promoting their certified sites, and have been successful in landing large facilities due to the ease of permitting and approvals.
Greater Spokane Incorporated has endorsed this movement to our regional partners as an opportunity to speed up site selection and investments, particularly on large parcels – both privately and publicly-owned. Last week, the City of Spokane launched its new Certified Sites Program, which will allow for property owners to have their property deemed shovel-ready, and speed up the process for permit application on their site.
The Certified Sites Program works like this:
- A property owner submits an application with detailed information about the site’s use for commercial or industrial development. The City reviews the application and other required information, including an environmental study, and decides whether the site is “shovel-ready.” Certified sites will have all utilities in place, are physically developable, are technically developable and are compatible with surrounding land uses.
- Other evaluation criteria include appropriate transportation infrastructure in place (or a detailed plan to put infrastructure in place), a minimum three acre site and location outside of the FEMA 100-year floodplain.
- Once a site is deemed shovel-ready, it’s listed on the City’s Certified Sites website. This provides another tool in the economic development toolbox for GSI to market to our database of 2,200+ site selectors, corporate real estate brokers and prospective clients.
Being certified means avoiding surprises when a site selector locates a piece of land a business might want to develop, such as discovering that utilities are not located adjacent to the site, the land isn’t compatible with surrounding land uses, or perhaps the site has historical or cultural issues that need to be addressed. The certification process is an assurance that permitting and development of a site can occur quickly and efficiently.
The implementation of a regional certified site program will not only add more tools for Greater Spokane Incorporated to help promote our area, but also differentiate us from the competition!