In late 2018, Southeast Gas worked with Garner Economics LLC to develop a Target Industry Strategy (TIS) and conduct a Competitive Analysis of the 18-county Southeast Gas region that takes into account the current state of the area’s economic assets.
The TIS builds upon the organizational assessment’s understanding of the dynamics of the region and the added-value Southeast Gas’ economic development efforts provide. The TIS offers a road map for Southeast Gas and its economic development partners to create economic opportunities for citizens in the region by targeting industries that are a good fit for creating or expanding in the region.
The engagement was focused on compiling data, analyzing qualitative and quantitative factors that impact the region’s competitiveness as a business location, and offering observations for Southeast Gas and our partners to understand the optimal targets that exist for the area and the value the region offers to those targets.
The scope for the overall project included:
- An assessment of key forces driving the economy and its shifting dynamics;
- An Assets and Challenges Assessment (A&C) of the region from the perspective of a site-location consultant that facilitates investment decisions;
- Recommendations for business targets suitable for the region, based on our research and analysis; and finally,
- A set of implementable recommendations that the leadership of Southeast Gas and its partners can utilize to enhance the success ratio of the target marketing strategy to these specified business sectors.
To build the TIS and understand the competitive position of the Southeast Gas region, we undertook three main work streams: an Assets and Challenges Assessment to understand the region’s overall economic development product, a focus group of key stakeholders to understand individual county concerns and gain stakeholder perspectives, and a deep assessment of the region’s workforce and areas of specialization.
Assets and Challenges Assessment
The first part of this engagement was to conduct an Assets and Challenges Assessment of the 18-county region. The Assets and Challenges Assessment is both an objective and subjective evaluation of the area. We applied many of the same criteria to assess the region that is used by corporations to evaluate communities for possible investment. By knowing what challenges or gaps exist, various entities can take the steps necessary to mitigate the situation, strengthen its overall “product” and be a more attractive business location for the targets. Likewise, by knowing its strengths, Southeast Gas and our economic development partners can better leverage them in efforts to attract businesses.
As a complement to the assessment of the physical structure of the region, we conducted a focus group of Southeast Gas’ key stakeholders and economic development partners. The purpose was to solicit perceptions of the area’s business climate from the region’s economic development partners’ perspective.
Labor Analysis and Local Specialization
To understand the existing industries and the labor within the Southeast Gas region, we undertook a quantitative analysis of the labor and current industry composition of the region.
Southeast Gas Region and Subregions
The Southeast Gas region comprises 18 counties in southeast Alabama that are served by Southeast Gas. These counties are Barbour, Butler, Chambers, Coffee, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Elmore, Escambia, Henry, Houston, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Montgomery, Pike and Russell. Given the diversity of this territory, Garner Economics divided the region into two subregions: North and South. The map above illustrates the subregions for the purposes of the Garner Economics Target Industries Study. This subdivision was accomplished based on industry clusters by county.
Target Industries Analysis
The analysis revealed that the region has many assets upon which to build. The TIS builds the analysis and identifies and provides the rationale for eight core target sectors and one local target that will both diversify the industry mix in the region, as well as build on current areas of strengths. These targets are “best fits” for the area and are recommended, given the attributes and assets of the region as a whole.
The identified Southeast Gas service delivery region target industry sectors are:
Food & Beverage Processing
High Value-Added Manufacturing
Transportation & Distribution
Data Centers and Cybersecurity
To request a copy of the full Target Industry Strategy and Competitive Analysis for the Southeast Gas Region, contact us.