Shovel-ready sites are an advantage to businesses because they take much of the time, expenditure, unpredictability, and risk out of the site selection process. Shovel ready sites are more likely to catch the eye of corporate site selectors or site selection consultants, and a competitive advantage for site owners and communities.
Companies looking to thrive in an increasingly competitive global marketplace are looking for more than just location; they are demanding sites that not only offer ready access to transportation networks, educational institutions, skilled workers, and potential customers, but are ‘pad ready’ or, at the least, ‘shovel-ready,’ primed and standing by for immediate development.
Commercial and industrial sites that have completed the necessary planning, zoning, surveys, title work, environmental studies, soil analysis and public infrastructure engineering studies prior to putting the site on the market and are under the legal control of a community or other third party are infinitely more attractive to potential developers than a stark plot of bare land.
Across the country, realization has taken hold with several state governments moving to make site preparation—a proven driver of private capital investment and growth, a fundamental cornerstone of their economic development strategies. Shovel-ready investments are a key driver in site selection for the semiconductor industry which is a major focus in today’s economy.
In early 2023, New York Governor Kathy Hochul, announced plans for the new Focused Attraction of Shovel-Ready Tracts New York grant program to attract and expand key growth industries to New York State. The Governor announced the program at the New York State Economic Development Council Conference in Albany.
Through Empire State Development, Governor Hochul’s fiscal year 2023 budget will make up to $200 million available to the new FAST NY grant program to develop sites that will attract high-tech manufacturing, particularly semiconductor manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, and logistics businesses to the state to jumpstart New York’s shovel-readiness and increase the state’s attractiveness to large employers.
FAST NY grant funding will be used to improve the shovel-readiness of existing, mature sites by funding improvements such as water infrastructure, sewer infrastructure, roads, electrical substations and power and gas lines, as well as prepare an emerging pipeline of future shovel-ready sites by addressing necessary pre-development site planning and reviews.
Kansas Certified Sites designation is issued when communities successfully demonstrate their property is primed for development and ready for investment, which is a huge advantage in recruiting and expanding businesses. The program is designed to reduce the risks associated with development. A Kansas Certified Site is attractive to investors and site selectors because it provides key detailed background information on a site’s price, availability, utilities, site access, environmental records and potential site development costs; encourages faster site selection decisions and helps greenfield or expansion projects get started.
As part of the new Certified Sites Grant program, the Kansas Department of Commerce will provide matching dollars up to $10,000 for eligible entities to use toward completion of a Kansas Certified Sites program application. Funding is available for non-metro counties with a population less than 50,000.
The California Energy Commission (CEC) has launched a $30 million incentive project to bring fast electric vehicle (EV) charging stations to 30 counties in Eastern California, the Central Valley and the Central Coast.
The Golden State Priority Project, a part of the California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project, is the first of its kind to fully focus on bringing fast-charging stations to disadvantaged, low-income and tribal communities. Projects that are shovel-ready will be prioritized for funding to accelerate build-out of the state’s infrastructure network.
“This new model is designed to deploy charging infrastructure swiftly and equitably to make sure every EV driver feels confident they can refuel, and that need is especially critical in rural, low-income and tribal communities,” said CEC Commissioner Patty Monahan. “These funds will help fill the gap in areas where we know charging is needed the most to bring the benefits of clean transportation to all Californians.”
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin announced a total of $90 million in Virginia Business Ready Sites Program (VBRSP) development grants for 21 sites across the Commonwealth.
Administered by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), this discretionary program helps characterize and develop sites to enhance the Commonwealth’s infrastructure with more competitive project-ready sites, to attract new business and accelerate expansion in Virginia. The program’s goal is to identify, assess, and improve the readiness of industrial sites with at least 100 contiguous, developable acres or 50 acres in the western part of the Commonwealth.
“The leading priority of the Virginia Business Ready Sites Program is to increase our project-ready sites portfolio across the Commonwealth, and this unprecedented site development funding is an important step forward in strengthening Virginia’s infrastructure,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “Prepared sites drive economic growth, and we have to move faster to attract new businesses. We are hitting the accelerator to build a best-in-class business environment so the Commonwealth can compete to win, and I have included the necessary additional funding for the VBRSP in my proposed budget.”
The program is composed of two components including site characterization to assess and designate a site’s current level of development and site development to further develop a pool of potential sites across the Commonwealth.
“It is critical for Virginia to create a diverse portfolio of sites that are attractive to different industry sectors and meet varying location and infrastructure needs, and these grants are a major step in the right direction to help the Commonwealth catch up on site development,” said Jason El Koubi, VEDP President and CEO. “Additional funding for the Virginia Business Ready Sites Program will allow VEDP to expand the program and invest in more sites, enhancing the Commonwealth’s infrastructure and accelerating economic development in Virginia.”
The Virginia Business Ready Sites Program was developed by a team of state, regional, and local stakeholders including VEDP, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, railroad representatives, utility representatives, civil engineers, and other government, business, and industry representatives. Grants are considered on a competitive basis and made at the discretion of an investment committee composed of VEDP and Administration leaders.
Beyond time savings, shovel ready sites minimize risk in that companies are dealing with a known quantity when it comes to infrastructure and the regulatory environment. Large-scale projects tend to come with more risk and so making site location shovel-ready in such cases can go a long way in reassuring prospective businesses.