Site Planning 101
Sooner or later you will need to consider what site and what building is right for your business. The more prepared you are, the easier the process is going to be when you move, expand, or build. When thinking about a new site, it is important to understand your business, your space needs, and what’s available in the market. We refer to this as business planning, facility planning, and location planning. Here’s a little more description about each step.
What Does it Mean? At this stage, it’s all about markets-what is your product, who are your customers, how do you plan to grow, how do you plan to finance your growth. This is the heart of entrepreneurialism and business development. Creating a business plan is one of the most important things to succeeding as a business. From a site selection perspective, understanding your business fundamentals and your growth is crucial to your facility requirements.
Who Can I Call? The Southwest Colorado Small Business Development Center can help you with the basics, and for those a little farther along in the business planning process, the SBDC also offers classes and business advisors for specific issues and assistance. Region 9 Economic Development District can help you with understanding your financing needs. Many local banks are adept at SBA financing which can help you reduce your borrowing costs on a long term loan.
What Does it Mean? Planning a facility is all about the type of building you need for your business and the appropriate infrastructure to support it. You need to clearly define key features in your building for your business to be successful- for example, do you need loading docks or floor space that can be easily adjusted as you add employees? How much parking will your customers want?
You will also need to know what your traffic impact will be, as well as your sewer and water requirements. Do you need internet access and if so, what type? Are you going to be creating noises, odors, or other external impacts that could affect your neighbors? What does your growth look like over the next five years, and will your new location be able to accommodate that growth?
Who Can I Call? At this stage, it makes sense to work with a local engineering or architecture firm who can help you better plan what type of building and infrastructure you will need for your new facility. If you are not building, we recommend meeting with a commercial real estate agent who can assist in narrowing down your search to properties that makes sense for your needs. The Alliance can assist in providing contacts for these key people.
What Does it Mean? Finding the right location is about meeting your facility requirements in a place where public services are ready for your business. This means entitlement- making sure that the property you buy or lease is approved for the use you want. We highly recommend checking with all applicable planning departments prior to making any decisions on a location, and having a pre-application meeting with the planning departments as well. There may be zoning issues or site issues that need to be addressed. Understanding all potential pitfalls will save you time and money.
Who Can I Call? At this stage, you will want to work with someone who can help you through the approval process (an entitlement specialist) and contact public review agencies such as planning departments. If you haven’t started the site selection or permitting process, call the Alliance and we can assist you.
Important Consideration! If you are building a new project or changing a land use, meeting with neighbors is a best practice that will prove very beneficial for you in the long run. As you narrow down your choices to one or two sites, consider asking an entitlement specialist or architecture/planning firm to organize a neighborhood meeting. This can help you address any concerns your neighbors might have and determine if one site is better for buying or building than another.
Still unsure of what each step means? This questionnaire can help guide you with more specific questions related to each step. Also, the Alliance would be happy to speak to you confidentially about the questionnaire, your answers to it, the outline above, or just answer general questions you have about the site planning process. Please feel free to give us a call or drop us an email and we will start working with you today!