New York Site Consultants Hear MetLife Case for Research Triangle Region
Local and Regional Developers, Private Allies Host Luncheon at 21 Club
Research Triangle Region, N.C. (December 23, 2014) - Access to talent – the college-educated workers with the skills and knowledge needed by financial services companies – was the primary reason insurance giant MetLife selected the Research Triangle Region, as home for its Global Technology and Operations Division. That was the message delivered by Lisa Vahdat, vice president and head of global corporate services operations at MetLife, who spoke to a group of New York-based site selection consultants last week at a luncheon organized by Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP).
Business-friendly local and regional officials, as well as a competitive incentive package, also swayed MetLife’s choice, unveiled in the spring of 2013. The move is bringing 1,200 jobs to the Research Triangle Region. Vahdat’s presentation was a powerful testimonial to the region’s appeal for technology, financial and other business operations. And it was delivered to some of the nation’s top location advisors. Attending the December 18th event at the 21 Club were site consultants representing firms such as Atlas Insight, BF Strategic, CBRE, CRESA, Colliers, Deloitte, Innovation Places, Invest in France Agency, and WDG. “We were extremely pleased with the number and caliber of the consultants attending,” said Charles Hayes, president and CEO of RTRP.
Local economic developers from Chatham, Durham, Johnston and Wake counties joined Hayes as part of the region’s delegation. Also participating in the luncheon were private allies - whose financial support sponsored the luncheon – included Duke Energy, ElectriCities, Kilpatrick Townsend, Piedmont Natural Gas and PSNC Energy. “Regardless of geographical location or professional background, successful business opportunities begin with relationships,” said Julie Roper, external relations manager at PSNC Energy, who attended the event. Roper says her company “is committed to supporting those connections that lead to economic development.”
The event was an opportunity to showcase the Research Triangle Region’s appeal as a business destination. The 15-county region includes Cary – home to MetLife – but also rural communities. “I think it was advantageous for everyone who attended,” said Chris Johnson, director of Johnston County Economic Development. Ordinarily, it would take several days of formal office meetings to introduce himself and his county to numerous consultants. “Having them all there in one room was a far more effective way to make meaningful contact,” Johnson said. Plus, the more relaxed setting of a luncheon facilitated a less formal dialogue, he added. During the exchange, site consultants commended the region’s economic developers for the valuable role they play in corporate expansion and relocation projects. “They see us as partners,” said Johnson. “It’s a two-way street.”
More aggressive and systematic outreach to site selection consultants was a key recommendation made by the region’s Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC), a group comprising Johnson and his county and local counterparts in the Research Triangle Region. The recommendation was voiced at the EDAC’s annual retreat in late September. Last week’s luncheon was the first time RTRP organized such an event exclusively on behalf of the region. Previously, it had joined other regional and state organizations in hosting special events for consultants. RTRP will organize more consultant outreach gatherings -- in New York City as well as Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas and other cities.
“This was just the first step,” said Ted Conner, vice president of economic development and community sustainability at the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, “and as with any first step, you learn something.” Conner said consultants indicated their project activity was strong, an encouraging indicator for 2015. Access to quality workforce assets is what most of their clients were seeking in new locations, consultants said. That bodes well for the Research Triangle Region. “Talent is driving many of their projects, and that is one of our strengths,” said Conner.
Dennis Donovan, principal at New Jersey-based Wadley-Donovan-Gutshaw Consulting, called the luncheon “productive and pleasant.” In a career spanning nearly four decades, Donovan has represented corporations such as Barclays Capital, Bank of America and Boston Scientific in their location searches. “The luncheon illuminated the impressive locational resources of the Raleigh-Durham region not only for technology but other sectors, including manufacturing and business operations centers,” Donovan said. “These insights will be valuable in considering the region during future site selection projects.”
About The Research Triangle Regional Partnership
The Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP) provides marketing and strategic economic development coordination for North Carolina's Research Triangle Region. RTRP comprises economic development organizations that represent a wide range of partners to ensure the region remains economically competitive at a global level. Among its many distinctions, RTRP received the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Award for Excellence in Economic Department Regional Competitiveness Strategic Planning. For more information, visit www.researchtriangle.org or follow @TriangleRegion.
Charles Hayes, President and CEO
Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP)