There has been some controversy over whether site selectors — the professionals who help businesses locate facilities — and their clients value “right too work” laws as a business location benefit.
Back in July as New Mexico was in the running for the Tesla “gigafactory,” one site selection manager spoke out strongly in favor of “right to work” as an economic development tool. John Boyd, the principal at his namesake site selection firm said of New Mexico’s chances to lure Tesla “manufacturing companies look for reasons to scratch off states when considering where to build major facilities — and no right to work law is at the top of the list.”
Boyd continued saying, “I can’t underscore how critical right to work status is.” In conclusion, Boyd again reiterated the dire need for a right to work law in New Mexico saying, “New Mexico has enormous potential to become a manufacturing hub, especially if it were to adopt right to work legislation.”
More recently, Dan Mayfield of the Albuquerque Biz First talked to some other site selectors who called “right to work” “old thinking” and “steadily less important as a factor for companies to the point that it hasn’t come up in 10 years.”
What’s the reality? When Michigan went “right to work” in 2013, Site Selection Magazine interviewed several site selection experts on the issue. The following comments, all from professional site selectors relating to a real-world law passing seem to indicate strong support for “right to work” laws among site selectors:
“We believe there will be an enormous impact, especially for medium-tier companies who are poised to grow,” says Jason Hickey, principal of Hickey & Associates in Washington, D.C.
Tracey Hyatt Bosman of BLS & Company in Chicago calls Michigan’s sudden change “a dramatic demonstration of the state’s commitment to the transformation of their business environment. It also will shine a big spotlight on all of the other work they have been doing, including overhauling their corporate tax structure, simplifying regulatory processes and bringing innovative approaches to economic development.”
Bosman echoes other site consultants when she adds, “Some companies simply insist on locating in a right-to-work state. Michigan’s new legislation removes a roadblock and will bring the state’s extremely skilled work force into consideration for more projects.”
It was hard to find anyone in the site selection profession who saw a downside to Michigan’s swift reversal of decades of labor law.
“Where it will have an effect is when there are companies who are looking for locations, Michigan will no longer be eliminated because they are not a right-to-work state,” says Brent Pollina of Pollina Corporate Real Estate in Chicago. “As a result, there should be a significant increase in the number of projects that Michigan receives because they are no longer being eliminated at the early stages of searches.”
The change also sends a strong signal to business and industry, adds Pollina.