2023 in Review: LVGEA Strategically Shifts From Quantity to Quality

LVGEA decided to launch this TQ Takes column in 2023 to be more transparent with the community about the organization’s strategy, business attraction efforts, and the value our work brings to the region.

In my first column last January, we shared the organization’s changing strategy. No longer are we being opportunistic, we are instead being intentional and strategic about the companies we are working to attract to the region.

We also promised to be accountable and provide a report to the community detailing how we performed against our annual metrics, which includes numbers of companies attracted to the region, jobs created, annual average wage, and both economic and fiscal impact of attracted companies.

As LVGEA evaluates trends over the past 12 months, there is concern for the overall decline in viable leads and projects, which has impacted realization of the agency’s yearly performance metrics. It is clear that the increase in cost of money and real estate is starting to affect the type of companies and industries looking to grow or relocate.

We shared with you last January that one of LVGEA’s goals moving forward was to focus on quality over quantity, and that is reflected in the 2023 metrics. Instead of simply trying to attract jobs to the region, we focused on the quality of those jobs, targeting high-paying, high-skilled careers for valley residents.

Here, we saw success. Our goal for the annual average salary of jobs attracted in 2023 was $62,400. While we attracted fewer jobs than we planned last year, the annual average salary of the 725+ jobs we did attract was $76,045, which is 137% higher than the state average wage.

We also believe that we are now connecting with the right companies for our region. We did not hit our prospect site visit goal for 2023, but we still doubled the number of site visits from 2022. Additionally, for companies who do a site visit, we’re seeing a high percentage of those companies choosing to locate or expand their business to the region.

We are also seeing a shift in the types of companies in LVGEA’s project pipeline. Historically, our pipeline has been dominated by two key industries – general and advanced manufacturing and transportation and logistics. Both industries are capital heavy, meaning they are sensitive to interest rates, which have been rising in recent years.

As we have seen a decrease in those types of projects, we’ve seen an uptick in some of our target industries, including biotech, fintech, sports tech and corporate headquarters. This shift is consistent with our strategy to attract higher wage jobs, and pairs nicely with the region’s abundant office offering.

In addition to our quantitative metrics, LVGEA delivered on other action items in 2023, including:

  • Creation of new advisory councils providing investors and community partners an opportunity to be more engaged in the economic development process.
  • Strengthened relationships and engagement with developers, builders, and real estate brokers, holding quarterly meetings with SIOR and NAIOP and offering virtual ‘how can LVGEA help’ presentations to local brokers.
  • Revamped events to focus more on intimate events that allow our partners a chance to network, connect and gain insight into local issues and trends.
  • Engaged a local PR agency to update our national marketing efforts to promote the region as a great place to do business.

LVGEA’s successes in 2023 were not the agency’s successes alone. We have a multitude of partners to thank for their continued support and involvement in creating regional economic development priorities.

As our team looks ahead to what we hope to accomplish in 2024, we feel confident we have set realistic goals. We have a proactive attraction strategy in place, and we have created playbooks for each of our target industries that include both outbound sales and investor engagement strategies. We have more than one hundred projects currently in our pipeline, and there is increasing interest in our region from biotech and clean tech companies.

In 2024, our goal is to assist 12 companies with locating to or expanding in the region, with 6 of those companies bringing higher than average wage jobs to the region. We also expect those assisted companies to bring 1,200 jobs to the region, with an average annual wage of $67,228. You can review the full list of our 2024 metrics in our Action Plan here.

We did not meet all the metrics set for 2023. The increase in cost of money and real estate hindered business decisions growth decisions more than anticipated. But we are confident we have the team and the strategy in place to gain traction in 2024.