The HITS program for existing business strong in its 2nd year

 HITS Logo 3 Cropped

Last updated on 11/2/2009 with HITS numbers. 

On target for 2009

Launched in 2008 by a team of public/non-profit business resource professionals, the HITS program had the ambitious goal of reaching out one-on-one to 1,000 businesses in the Springfield Ohio MSA (Clark County).  It accomplished that, reaching 1,039 businesses, hearing from 705 on their growth plans and helping 305 directly.  Prior to that in 2000/2001, the number of businesses reached was 70. 

For 2009, the team pushed the reach objective out to 1,100 and is focusing on even increasing the number of companies who are relaying their plans to over 1,000.  So far, we are pretty much on target.  Here are the current numbers:  

Reach+: 970
Companies to whom we’ve reached out one-on-one this calendar year, they may have responded or not

Respond+: 654
Companies who have responded back with their hiring, investment, training, and space plans

Assist: 275
Companies we have assisted this year or whom we are assisting still

Value: $576,726
Value of assistance tracked so far.  This is very low; much hasn’t been put in yet.

The Program

HITS is the initiative in Clark County to reach out to businesses and help them identify and obtain resources that help them grow.  The program is a collaborative team effort that leverages existing business relationships to increase the resources that businesses use.  Members of the core + associated teams reach out one-on-one to businesses located in the Springfield Ohio MSA (aka Clark County, Ohio) and ask the HITS questions about their plans to hire, invest, train or find new space.  The questions are described in more detail here – http://bit.ly/sehits1.

The Team

The core team consists of non-profit resource partners who meet monthly to discuss resources and new projects.  The associate team consists of volunteers who assist in making HITS calls or entering data into the system.  Both are critical for our success.  The core team is listed below. The associate team consists of over 20 professionals + volunteers working with the organization to make the contacts.

     
Core Team    
Steve Anzur Exec. Director SBDC
Nancy Bridgman Exec. Director NET Incubator
Kimberly Jones City Manager New Carlisle City
Amy Donahoe Dir. of Hiring + Employer Services Chamber/CIC
Jim Franks Exec. Dir. + Dean, Corp. + Public Svc. Clark State CC
Maureen Fagans Exec. Director Center City
Shane Farnsworth Planning Director Clark County
Tom Franzen Econ. Dev. Administrator Springfield City
Duane Hodge Prog. Mgr., Bus. + Industry Training Clark State CC
Gary Kuhn Contract Training Facilitator Clark State CC
Maria Goeser Workforce Representative ODOD
Lehan Peters Director, Workforce Development Clark Co. JFS
Pat Richards Deputy Econ. Dev. Administrator Springfield City
Josh Rice Village Manager S. Charleston
Bill Salyers Chair, Econ. Dev. Committee Clark Co. TRIAD
Geoff Steele Deputy Director Clark Co. JFS
David Zak VP, Economic Development Chamber/CIC
     

Awards + Press

The HITS Business Retention + Expansion program was nominated for both the OEDA Best Innovation in Economic Development Award (was a finalist) in 2008 as well as the BREI Best Program award.  In 2009, it won an OSAE (Ohio Society of Association Executives) Achievement Award.

>> Here is the application, which provides a full history, philosophy, results + press coverage of the program in its first full year – http://bit.ly/sehitsoeda.
>> News-Sun article (7/6/2008) – http://bit.ly/tFp83
>> DBJ article (3/3/2008) – http://bit.ly/O8ANb

HITS P12 – Step 3: Find out what incentives you can get for your project

HITS Logo 3 Cropped

If you went through the HITS (http://tinyurl.com/sehits) and answered yes to Hiring and Investing, you have a traditional economic development project. If you gave some brief answers and narrative in answering the HITS P3 questions (http://tinyurl.com/sehitsp3), you have defined the project in a way that lets an economic development professional determine if there is a good chance you qualify for incentives. Now, if the preliminary assessment is good, you’re ready to get down to the nitty gritty and get all of the information together needed to estimate the incentives for which you will qualify, the value of those incentives, and needed to fill out most of the applications for those incentives.  The HITS P12 questions will help uncover that information:

1. Parent: What is the corporate structure and how is the company organized (or how will it be organized if it’s not already)? Are there any affiliates, parents, or subsidiaries and if so, describe them and how they to the company being considered? What is the relationship in terms of commerce, control, cash? Are they public or privately owned? If privately owned, who is the owner/are the owners?

2. Products: describe in detail what products or service the company provides as well as any end products it goes into. Describe in detail the market, the company’s market share, as well as who the competitors, immediate and end customers, suppliers are. Describe how the product/service is made, distributed, sold, delivered, and serviced. What is the company’s/the product’s competitive advantage?

3. Performance: provide a detailed company history. How profitable is the company? How has profitability trended? How are sales? How have sales been? How large is the company? How many employees, facilities? How has it grown or declined in recent years in these areas?

4. People: who’s running the company? Who’s heading up the site selection process, and who is the main contact? Who also is involved with that process, both from inside and outside the company? Who will be managing the project once the site selection and development has been completed?  Do you want me to run point for all of the sites and incentives within the Springfield MSA/Clark County area?

5. Purpose: what’s the purpose for the project? What is motivating it? Why does the company need to expand this way? What assumptions are underlying the anticipated growth?

6. Positions: as jobs are the number one criteria for determining incentives, it also has the most questions. I’ve broken it up into five separate question areas.

  • 6a. Current Positions: How many current full-time, permanent employees do you have in the US, in Ohio, and at the proposed project site? How many did you have in Ohio and at the proposed project site one year ago? Is any of the workforce seasonal?
  • 6b. Future Positions: How many net, new, full-time jobs will the company create in three years, both related to the project and those that will be part of other growth? How many new permanent, part-time positions are expected to be created? Does the company expect to use a temporary agency? Will any of the future positions be seasonal?
  • 6c. Relocation: Will there be a relocation of jobs from any other Ohio location? If so, how many and from where? Will there be a relocation of jobs from another US location? If so, how many and from where? Please describe the reasons for the relocation.
  • 6d. Job Types: Please provide a general breakdown of the new permanent full-time jobs to be created by category and number (e.g., 200 customer service reps, 10 supervisors, 1 manager).
  • 6e. Wages: What will the average non-loaded (excluding benefits) wages of jobs (or payroll) for new employees expected to be by the end of the third year. Alternatively, provide the anticipated payroll for the new employees by the end of year three? What kind of benefits will be provided?

7. Property: this is the second most critical area.

  • 7a. Site: Has a site or sites been selected? If so, for each site being considered in the Springfield MSA/Clark County area, please provide the address or location. I can usually look them up on the County GIS system and get specific details. If known, provide acreage, owner, and price. If the company is searching for a site, please provide acreage desired and any requirements of the site (e.g., need to be 5 miles within an Interstate) as well as any desired characteristics (e.g., it would be great if rail were available).
  • 7b. Facility: Has a facility or space been selected. If so, for each facility being considered in the Springfield MSA/Clark County area, please provide the address or location. If known, provide acreage, owner, and price. As with sites, I can usually look them up on the County GIS system and get specific details. If the company is searching for a facility or space, please provide amount of existing space desired and any requirements of the site (e.g., needs to have 18’ ceilings) as well as any desired characteristics (e.g., it would be great if it were a stand-alone facility, but multi-tenant is OK).
  • 7c. Equipment: what equipment is needed for the project? Please provide a list of major pieces of equipment along with cost estimates, brief (very) description and/or brand name and number. How is the purchase of the equipment staged by year? Is there any other equipment that will be needed as a matter of course but is not related to the project?

8. Payment: how is the company planning on funding the project? Are they planning to finance the project externally? With which bank or banks are they working? If they are working with a bank, are there terms? Is the company interested in entertaining public financing as part of the project?

9. Process: When does the company want/need to receive an initial proposal by, and in what format would they like it. When is the short list going to be developed? When would a tour of prospective properties be scheduled? When would a site be selected, when would construction begin and end? When would hiring begin? When would product begin to be made and shipped?

10. Possibilities: What other locations, areas, regions, states, and/or countries outside of the Springfield MSA/Clark County are being considered?

11. Proposals: Are there other site/building proposals on the table? Are there incentives proposals on the table? If so, is any of that information available/can it be shared?

12. Publicity: Is the project public? Has the company already announced that they were doing it? Have they already purchased any of the assets or hired any of the people involved? If so, please describe. In working to assist the company gain incentives, is the company willing to meet with federal, state, regional, and/or local officials? Are they willing to have their company name shared with those folks? Are they willing to have project details shared?

To go through this or submit P12 information in order to get a preliminary assessment of incentives, contact David Zak, Vice President of Economic Development at the Greater Springfield Chamber.  (937) 631-5315 (cell), (937) 521-1935 (direct office), dzak@greaterspringfield.com.  Twitter: @springfieldedge, Blog: http://tinyurl.com/edgeblog, LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/davidzak.

HITS P3 – Step 2: Will your project qualify for incentives?

HITS P3 is the 2nd step of the process

HITS P3 is the 2nd step of the process

HITS is the starting point

If you read the article about HITS (http://tinyurl.com/sehits), you will discover that HITS is designed to be a quick way to determine if a company could take advantage of many of the economic and workforce development resources available.  It looked at whether you had a traditional economic development project (Hiring and Investing), or if you could take advantage of resources (just I or T) or use ED services (just H or S), even if you didn’t have a traditional ED project.  If a company is looking to hire and invest, then the company has a “traditional economic development project” and the HITS P3 process is done.   

What is HITS P3?

It is the next step after a company has indicated that they are both hiring and investing (i.e., going to be talking to me, David Zak).  It is my method for gathering information about a project, so that (1) the project can be evaluated to see if it will likely qualify for incentives (the HITS P3 process) and if that looks good, (2) to be defined in a way that allows economic development incentives to be assessed and plugged in (this is the HITS P12 process).  The goal of HITS P3 is to define the basics of the economic development project and see if it would likely qualify for available economic development incentives.  In order to give a preliminary assessment of those incentives and their potential value, a company will generally need to provide the more detailed information provided through the HITS P12 process, which breaks each of these areas down into four more areas and asks questions in a total of 12 specific areas.  

It’s important to note that this can be done verbally or in writing.  It’s up to the company/client.

HITS P3 looks at three areas: (1) company information or a Profile of the company; (2) Project information; and (3) timetables and information about the site selection project or the Plan for the project.  Getting detailed information about the Profile, the Project, and the Plan is critical for an accurate assessment of incentives.  The Profile, Project, and Plan are the 3 main areas of the HITS P3. 

P1 – Profile: information about the company

I may get very little information here, particularly if the company is being represented by a consultant, a broker, or a larger economic development entity (e.g., Dayton Development Coalition or Ohio Department of Development), but the more information I get, the better.  If can get the company name and base of operations, I can usually get much of this information on my own from the Internet.  If I can’t get that I try to get industry (the more specific the better), the product category, and the size of the company.  It is also important to note that I typically assign projects code names, which allows me to provide information on the project without providing the name of the company. 

P2 – Project: information about the economic development activity

This is the most critical area of the three for getting assistance and typically looks at a three-year timeframe and should include information about the project and any other growth activity that will/would occur during those three years (even if not directly related to the project).  Information on the number of existing jobs and new jobs created and their wages, as well as the investment in fixed capital assets is the backbone of any economic development project.  

P3 – Plan: information about how things will move forward

Lastly, I want to receive information on how the company wants to run the site selection and project process.  When does it want/need to receive an initial proposal by and when does it look to select a site?  What other locations are being considered? 

To go through this process and get a preliminary assessment, contact David Zak, Vice President of Economic Development at the Greater Springfield Chamber.  (937) 631-5315 (cell), (937) 521-1935 (direct office), dzak@greaterspringfield.com.  Twitter: @springfieldedge, Blog: http://tinyurl.com/edgeblog, LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/davidzak.

HITS – Step 1: Can you use economic development assistance?

HITS Logo 3 Cropped

I am sometimes asked by realtors and others about what information about a company and project in order to be able to give an assessment of incentives.  So, here’s a first basic set of yes/no questions I (and others involved with our retention and expansion program) ask. 

 HITS – Prequalification Questions (Hiring, Investing, Training, Space)

These four question help determine if there is an economic development project or a key economic development service that could be provided?

 1. Hiring: do you think you may be hiring in the next 12 months?  Will you need to lay some people off in the next 12 months?

 • The most important determining factor for getting incentives is job creation.  If you aren’t hiring, then you won’t qualify for most (but not all) incentive programs.  Tax credits, loans, grants all usually depend on the number of new hires.

 2. Investing: do you think that you may be investing more money into the business within the next 12 months over and above general operating expenses?  Examples would include any fixed capital assets (land, building, construction, renovation, machinery and equipment), research and development costs, training costs, working capital.

 • The second most important determining factor for getting incentives is fixed capital asset investment.  Working capital and other soft costs are next in importance.  If there is no hiring and no investing being done, then there is no “traditional” economic development project.

 3. Training: do you think you will be spending any money on training for new and/or existing employees over the next 12 months? 

 • There are training programs which do not require additional hires or investment (other than what was spent on the training itself).  There are also people on our team who are training experts who can help determine how the training needs might best be met and if there are any programs to assist in paying for it.

 4. Space: are you thinking about changing space or adding on to your current space within the next 12 months?

 • Finding companies the space to do business in is real estate brokerage, and this is a key function of economic developers.  Not that they replace brokers themselves, but they add value to the equation by knowing their areas better than anyone when it comes to sites, industrial, distribution, and often office, tech, and commercial space as well.  This is a key economic development service that can be provided for a business even if they do not need any assistance.

If you/your client answered yes to Investing or Space, call David Zak, Vice President of Economic Development at the Greater Springfield Chamber.  (937) 631-5315 (cell), (937) 521-1935 (direct office), dzak@greaterspringfield.com.  Twitter: @springfieldedge, Blog: http://tinyurl.com/edgeblog, LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/davidzak.

If you/your client answered no to Investing and/or Space, but yes to Hiring, contact Amy Donahoe, Director of Hiring & Employer Services at the Greater Springfield Chamber.  (937) 325-7621 or adonahoe@greaterspringfield.com.  LinkedIn Profile: http://tinyurl.com/sedonahoelinkedin.

If you/your client answered no to Investing, Space, and/or Hiring but yes to Training, contact Duane Hodge, Program Manager for Business & Industry Training at Clark State Technical College.  (937) 328-6063 or hodged@clarkstate.edu.   LinkedIn Profile: http://tinyurl.com/sehodgelinkedin.