What do site selection professionals really say about “right to work?”

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.

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5 Replies to “What do site selection professionals really say about “right to work?””

  1. How about, instead of passing more laws (right-to-work) to obviate old laws (labor laws), we just repeal all law pertaining to the relationship between employees and employers? Let the market decide who gets the privileges rather than the politicians and lawyers.

    1. I agree that this would be ideal, Ted, but that route would require Congress to do something and the President to sign it. Not likely even in the best of circumstances and certainly not with the current occupant of the White House.

  2. Paul, I am pleased to respond to this inquiry.

    I am a retired Industrial Development Manager from the Santa Fe Railway here in Albuquerque.

    Having worked with Industrial prospects on a daily basis over the years in Illinois (Including Chicago), Missouri, Indiana, New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona I can speak with some knowledge that The “Right Too Work” is a large issue in Industrial plant location.

    When locating the General Mill’s plant in Albuquerque the State and the Santa Fe Railway played an important roll. Know doubt Tesla was looking at the “Right To Work” issue in making their location decision. Certainly the Santa Teresa Development would benefit having the “Right To Work” law in place.

    If I can be of assistance please let me know. Telephone # 505/839-5286 – Dean Cunningham

    1. Thanks for the contribution to the discussion. I’ll check with folks on the coalition who are involved with the issue.

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