Site Selection


Quest helps companies decide where to locate facilities. We assist our clients with the selection of the optimal location to meet their strategic and operational goals. Our customizable approach allows us to serve any company, from large international corporations to start-up firms, in a wide array of industry sectors. Quest’s consulting process enables our clients to avoid risk and make defendable, informed site selection decisions. Trusting Quest to find the right location for your facility allows you to remain focused on your core business.

Quest offers our site selection services comprehensively as a four-phase approach or individually to meet your project needs. Our individual services include location evaluation to determine the search region, property investigations to assess real estate options, workforce analysis to understand the labor dynamics in candidate communities, and incentive negotiations to maximize return on investment. Collectively, these services comprise the four-phase approach described below.


Our site selection process includes four key phases that are tailored to the specific needs of each project. Securing the right site is fundamental to the success of your business. We have the knowledge, experience, and proven process to get you there.

Phase I begins with defining the end goal and the location criteria. We listen to your objectives and bring the technical and structural expertise to help realize your vision. On your behalf, Quest will introduce your project to the areas under consideration to gather site and community data. The success of this step depends on leveraging the right connections and asking the right questions. By maintaining relationships with economic development partners nationwide and having conducted numerous projects, our team ensures your project gets the attention it deserves. We evaluate the properties submitted against your project criteria and share our recommendations to determine candidate locations.

During Phase II, we take a deeper dive into the multitude of factors that will impact your site selection decision. We put boots on the ground during this step by conducting field visits to further explore the property, infrastructure, and community characteristics. Quest also conducts extensive desktop research to develop a comprehensive comparison between candidate locations. We leverage our analytical tools and resources to bring you the most up-to-date information on workforce availability and skill sets, labor union presence and activity, education, cost of living, natural disaster risk, taxes, and other factors that play a vital role in selecting a site and community that meet your needs. Phase II concludes with Quest presenting a comprehensive comparative analysis to determine finalist locations.

In Phase III, we focus on finalizing our analysis of each property and the costs of doing business in each location. Our team develops customized incentive requests for each finalist location and leads the negotiation process. While the entirety of Quest’s site selection process is tailored to the specific needs of your project, incentive negotiations require the most customization due to the uniqueness of each community’s infrastructure, permitting processes, tax structure, and incentive programs. Our team works to ensure the negotiation process results in an incentive package which benefits you and establishes a strong relationship with the state and community. Since even the best available location options are not without risks, we also conduct a risk assessment to identify potential risks, the likelihood of occurrence, and the potential impact on your operations. The information and location recommendation presented at the conclusion of Phase III will enable your team to make an informed decision on a preferred location.

Phase IV finalizes the deal in your preferred location and equips your team to capture the incentive package. Working with your legal counsel, Quest confirms that the incentives and real estate terms are accurately described in legal documentation. We assist in coordinating communications with the winning location to prepare for the project announcement. Our team also prepares an incentive compliance manual that provides guidance on the ongoing documentation required for capturing incentives. This final phase in the process positions you for long-term success at your selected site.

The location of your business should be an asset for your company. Many communities promise to be “the best place to do business,” but Quest’s site selection services ensure you select “the best place for your business.” After all, it is your business that matters most.


Not sure how to begin the site selection process? Trying to decide where to look for your next facility? Have you already conducted some analysis but need help differentiating between locations? Wherever you are in the process, Quest’s location evaluation services can help.

Our location evaluation services are designed to identify locations that can meet your business objectives and position your company for continued growth. We analyze and summarize a significant amount of information into a format that enables you to make an informed decision on how to proceed. Location evaluation can be used at the beginning of a potential project to decide where to look, or later in the process to provide a comparative analysis of locations.

In a world driven by data, conducting a comprehensive location evaluation is no exception. However, being able to access and insightfully apply countless sources of data is challenging. With decades of industry experience and top data source subscriptions, our team helps you navigate the overwhelming task of evaluating locations to arrive at a data-driven decision.

Our location evaluation services are flexible to meet the demands of your project. For office projects, including headquarters relocation, our services range from feasibility studies to comparison of finalist locations. For industrial projects, we can assist in the early stages of a project with determining the search region, or we can be brought in at the end of a project to evaluate the finalist locations. Below are examples of the location evaluation services we have provided to prior clients.

• For a Fortune 500 company evaluating the feasibility of relocating their headquarters, we provided a high-level assessment of the costs and benefits associated with operating in alternative locations. Our analysis assisted the company in determining if a relocation warranted further consideration. The client decided to pursue relocation and engaged us for full site selection services.

• An international manufacturing client had narrowed their site choices to seven locations in the southeastern United States, but they were not sure which of the seven was best for their project. Utilizing a comparative analysis model to evaluate the factors that were most important for the project, we were able to determine which of the locations was the most advantageous.

• An emerging technology client was growing rapidly and needed to identify the best market east of the Mississippi River to expand their back-office operation. Utilizing our subscription data sources, we quickly analyzed the labor and economic climate of 18 metropolitan areas. Our client was then able to focus their search on the metropolitan areas with the strongest talent pool for their industry.

• For a U.S. based company that had identified three finalist locations, we evaluated the properties in collaboration with their engineering firm to identify location-specific risks and provide the final analysis necessary to decide between comparable locations. Our recommendations on the best path forward enabled the company to negotiate incentives that mitigated these risks and confidently commit to the final location.

• A publicly traded company had narrowed its search for a new headquarters to four cities in the southern United States. We developed a customized location evaluation model to quantitatively assess the operational variables and rank the locations for the headquarters operation. From our analysis, the company was able to confidently select a new location in their target region. 

• A manufacturing client with stringent transportation infrastructure requirements needed to add production capacity in the Pacific Northwest. Utilizing Geographic Information Systems (GIS), we were able to quickly identify the counties in the Pacific Northwest that had rail, were within a one-day drive of a deepwater port, and were located within an hour’s drive of a commercial service airport.

Since location decisions are complex and unique to each company, Quest provides a location evaluation strategy that is customized to the goals of each client. Whether assessing states, regions, or specific properties, our approach covers the multitude of factors that impact business operations, while also addressing the nuances of your industry sector. Our expertise positions your company for success by delivering the data and insights to make an informed location decision.


Identifying specific properties, either greenfield sites or existing buildings, that can support your current needs and future growth is an important component of any site selection project. The multitude of factors involved in thoroughly investigating a property can be overwhelming to someone who doesn’t do this every day. You want to find a property that can meet your parameters, as well as be permitted and developed within your allotted timeframe and budget with minimal risks. Where you choose to operate is a long-term investment – Quest has the knowledge and expertise to know what to ask, who to ask, and how to interpret the information.

At the onset of a project, Quest will work with you to understand the key project drivers and define both your needs and wants. Since each project search is unique, this criteria development is critical to providing a solid foundation for customized property investigations. Once we have established your criteria, we can then begin the site search.

Since there is no single comprehensive database of properties, Quest has developed a process of identifying potential sites and buildings through various channels. Utilizing multiple databases to identify listed properties and leveraging relationships to find off-market properties, we ensure all potential candidates are considered. After the properties are identified, we deploy a custom-built request for proposal (RFP) to collect the information for a uniform analysis relative to your project’s needs.

Equipped with the data, we evaluate and analyze the properties against your criteria to develop a list of viable candidate locations. During the initial desktop evaluation, we review hundreds of data points and identify any information gaps that warrant further research. Property investigations continue with on-the-ground assessments in each community to validate the information submitted. We also conduct a comprehensive comparative analysis of locations customized to your project. Quest then presents our property assessments and recommendations, and we work with you to reach consensus on the status of each property – determining which advance in the process.

The site selection process operates much like a funnel, starting with numerous locations under consideration and then a narrowing of options to those that can best meet your needs. Whether considering a greenfield site or an existing building, a thorough property investigation is crucial to ensuring that the finalist locations can meet both your immediate and long-term growth plans. Quest’s property investigations service identifies viable sites and buildings for further analysis, which is a key step towards making an informed decision on the location for your facility. Continuing forward with our workforce analysis and incentive negotiations services provides a comprehensive analysis that enables the selection of the ideal site for your business.


Workforce is a key driver in any site selection process, and in today’s economy, workforce is even more critical to the success of your operations. Making a decision on where to locate requires gathering data points on everything from wages to skillsets to validate which potential locations can accommodate your initial operations and long-term growth. In order to provide in-depth research and analysis, Quest uses multiple subscription services and proprietary databases to provide you with the most up-to-date labor data and trends. We supplement the quantitative data by conducting existing industry interviews that provide real-world and real-time data points to then complete an overall workforce assessment.

Understanding the labor shed of each location is the first step of an effective workforce analysis. Quest uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to examine the drive time around each site for a typical commute, which is a more accurate assessment of workforce than simply examining city- or county-level data. We explore areas such as population, industry dynamics, labor availability, labor costs, educational attainment, etc. Our unique approach includes reviewing historical data, current conditions, and future projections to provide a thorough assessment of labor trends.

To verify the workforce statistics and understand the real-time perspective, Quest conducts interviews with existing industries and staffing firms in each of the locations under consideration. The focus of the interviews is to get an on-the-ground assessment of labor availability, labor quality, union climate, and wage and benefit costs. These interviews are a valuable source of information on both the labor market and the business climate in each location and provide insights well beyond secondary data sources.

When evaluating workforce, we also analyze labor management relations by assessing the presence and activity of labor unions in the region for each property under consideration using our proprietary database. We present our findings through easy-to-digest data visualizations that provide context to the data points.

The importance of available and quality talent cannot be understated – you need a workforce that can meet your needs now and grow with you in the future. We work strategically with you to quantify your workforce requirements and evaluate how prospective locations measure up against your criteria. Our workforce analysis strategy identifies workforce strengths and weaknesses, including assessing training programs and resources, to assist you in making a well-informed, defendable decision. Achieving your long-term growth strategy requires finding a supportive community with the right talent.


Labor unions, by definition, are an organized association of workers formed to protect and further their rights and interests. Perspectives on unions vary throughout the United States, and the union climate of a potential location factors into the site selection decision for some companies. Currently, more than half of states within the US have enacted right-to-work laws that provide employees the choice of whether or not to join a labor union. The presence of right-to-work laws is often used by companies as an initial barometer of the potential for a unionized workforce. However, right-to-work is just one gauge, and assessing union climate entails looking deeper at a variety of union data sets.

While there is a significant amount of union information publicly available from the National Labor Relations Board and the US Department of Labor’s Office of Labor Management Standards, there are limitations that make it difficult to use the raw data in a meaningful way. To overcome these limitations, Quest dedicates extensive efforts to collect the raw data, clean and validate the information, and assign spatial locations. We maintain this comprehensive and ready-to-use database of labor union presence and activity to assist you in making informed location decisions.

Our proprietary ten-year rolling data set of US union offices and elections provides you with up-to-date union statistics and trend data.

Union offices data conveys the presence of union organizations. Understanding the number of offices and member size of each organization in a location provides insight into the prevalence of labor unionization in a community and region. Awareness of what types of industries unionize in a location provides invaluable knowledge regarding whether a specific field of work is likely to be impacted by unionization.

Union elections data conveys the extent of organizing activity. By understanding the number of union elections that have occurred in a location under consideration and the quantitative value of elections won and lost, the likelihood of future unionization attempts can be more accurately assessed. Looking at multiple years of union election data is essential for a thorough evaluation of election trends.

In order to evaluate labor management relations, Quest offers you a customized union report including maps that visually portray the data for each location. We apply our expertise with an analytical assessment of the results to assist you on how to apply the findings. Our unique approach provides you with a thorough understanding of a location’s union presence and activity through a product that you can’t get elsewhere.

Whether you are seeking to better understand the labor environment in an existing location or a potential new location, we can help. Quest pairs our proprietary union database with our mapping capabilities to provide informative data visualizations that reflect union dynamics. Available as a stand-alone offering or as part of our comprehensive Site Selection Process, our union report ensures that you are equipped with the latest data in a usable format to make informed, defendable decisions.


Investing in a location makes you eligible for incentives. Whether it’s an entirely new facility or just updating equipment, negotiating for incentives can yield financial benefits and schedule advantages for a project. Maximizing incentives requires understanding who offers incentives, when to negotiate, and how to capture all incentives offered. Quest’s incentive negotiations service guides you through each step in the process to ensure you minimize risk and maximize return on investment.

In order to maximize incentive value, it’s important to understand the differences between statutory and discretionary incentives. Statutory incentives are available by right if you meet certain thresholds or perform certain activities. While you are eligible for statutory incentives if you meet the requirements, documentation may need to be filed to claim the incentive while others are automatically provided once the thresholds are met. Discretionary incentives are at an economic development entity’s discretion. These types of incentives are not always a standard offering and are often evaluated on a case-by-case basis. To capitalize on discretionary incentives, all negotiations and documentation should occur prior to any investment activities such as hiring employees, signing real estate agreements, filing for permits, etc.

Since incentives vary by location and project, it’s important to understand what to ask for, when to ask, who to ask, and how to assess the value to your project. Incentives have a window of opportunity - publicly sharing your intentions or investing before negotiating could jeopardize your bargaining power. Quest’s incentive negotiation strategy includes developing customized incentive requests that focus on maximizing the value of the incentive package and mitigating the weakness of specific sites and locations. Our approach includes local, state, and federal incentives to ensure that all potential incentives are identified.

Just because an incentive is offered does not mean that it is valuable or worth the red tape. Our process helps you understand the realizable value of the incentives by demonstrating whether an incentive will have an impact on your project. For example, a community may offer the biggest incentive package but still be the highest cost location. Trusting Quest to negotiate your incentives ensures the most effective ask with the most realistic incentive benefits to support your long-term success in a location.

Being offered an incentive package is just one step in the process. Most incentives and tax credits require ongoing compliance in order to capture, or receive the full monetary benefit, of an incentive. The challenge is that these compliance efforts are often time-consuming, complicated, and multi-faceted. These efforts require on-going reporting and filing to various departments that must be done thoroughly and at specific times, or you risk losing the incentive. You can avoid this by trusting Quest to handle the incentive monitoring process on your behalf for the maximum realizable benefit to your bottom line.

Though they shouldn’t be the sole driver of your site selection process, incentives can add significant value to a project. We work with you to negotiate both statutory and discretionary incentives and create effective partnerships so that you can capture the full incentive value. Capitalizing on Quest’s incentive negotiations experience will enable you to utilize incentive tools that you may not otherwise be aware of. Our team helps you successfully navigate the process so that you don’t leave money on the table.


With more data available today than ever before, accessing and analyzing data provides critical insight to help solve problems. Quest has a variety of data sources, including subscription and proprietary databases, that you can leverage and apply to your project. Whether you need us to deliver the raw data for your internal use or are seeking a custom analysis to assist you with interpreting the data, our data analysis services are tailored to your needs.

Establishing a facility in a new location may necessitate identifying and securing new suppliers. Quest can leverage our databases and relationships to locate potential suppliers, gather information on their qualifications through customized surveys, and coordinate meetings with company leadership – all while allowing your company identity to remain confidential.

Would you like to see your proposed facility laid out on a specific property? Our proprietary 3D modeling software, SCOPE®, is a cost-effective way to test site development concepts and estimate costs using the latest technology. This real-time directional estimating tool uses site modeling, Google Earth®, AutoCad surveys, and satellite terrains to create detailed models – providing instant feedback on location cost, layout, and cut and fill. The process allows a building model to be placed at various positions on a single site or modeled for comparison across multiple sites. With this macro Building Information Modeling (BIM) tool, you are able to visualize and analyze a project on a specific site to make informed decisions quickly.

GIS is a powerful tool that enables analysis and visualization of an abundance of data. Quest utilizes leading GIS technology to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of location decisions. The value provided by GIS analysis can span across many applications – from the initial stages of suitability analysis and defining the search region, to supplier identification and optimization of transportation networks, to detailed analysis of workforce characteristics within a commuter shed. Our expertise and in-house GIS services can be customized to provide a competitive advantage for your project.

Due diligence is the necessary path forward in understanding the environmental, legal, and development characteristics of a site. These reports are intended to uncover the unknown and often hidden characteristics that can complicate a site. We dive into the details to offer you the most effective analysis and support – helping to obtain due diligence, reviewing the due diligence, or evaluating how to respond to the due diligence findings. We coordinate the due diligence process for the most risk-adverse site decision possible.

Permitting a project can be a complex endeavor. There are numerous jurisdictions, processes, and timelines to navigate – and understanding upfront what is required can save you time and money. Quest uses our knowledge and experience to create an actionable roadmap to guide you through the many layers of permitting. We identify opportunities to expedite the permitting process as well as incentives to offset permitting fees.

From raw material and customer location modeling to detailed network analysis, the logistics of a location are a key consideration during the site selection process. Logistics costs can be a significant component of ongoing operating costs and can make-or-break the location decision. Whether you need help determining the search region or are trying to pick a location that optimizes your supply chain, Quest’s logistics analysis can point you in the right direction.

Drone technology can provide high-resolution, close-up images of features that can be hard to assess in standard maps and photography. Our drone imagery services allow your team to view sites without spending time and money traveling to each property and can also serve as a review of site characteristics for team members who visited the properties. Utilizing drones during site selection process can provide an on-the-ground feel for a location without leaving your desk.