Gabriel Dillard

published on June 14, 2018 - 2:22 PM
Written by Gabriel Dillard

In another sign that nothing in life (or the local economy) is promised — Fresno is in the middle of the pack when it comes to affordable places for food processing businesses.

Great Falls, Montana, takes the distinction as the most affordable location for a 325-person food processing operation, according to an email I received this week.

That’s according to a study by The Boyd Company, which examined the cost of doing business in 25 cities that receive raw materials from the Great Falls region. Boston, Massachusetts, was the No. 1 costliest on the list, followed by Newark, New Jersey; Fairfield, California; Seattle, Washington; and San Diego.

Fresno is in the middle of the field at No. 12. Stockton rings in at No. 9 and Modesto No. 10.

After Great Falls, Boise, Idaho, is the next cheapest, followed by Omaha, Nebraska.

Great Falls was 25-percent less expensive than Boston.

“Our analysis focused on geographically variable cost elements considered to be most pivotal within the corporate site selection process,” says John Boyd, Principal, The Boyd Company, a Princeton, NJ-based site selection firm. “Great Falls came out on top because of its low land and construction costs, and its proximity to raw materials including livestock, wheat, nuts and seeds.”

This is how the game is played. Cities are always locked in competition for businesses and jobs. One just needs to go to the World Ag Expo to see states like Wisconsin or Idaho making a pitch for Golden State dairy operators to move east.

Considering California’s tax rates, energy costs, regulatory environment and bureaucratic red tape — the Golden State is low hanging fruit for out-of-state economic development efforts.

Obviously, the biggest thing we have going for us is our immediate access to every raw food product worth eating. I’m sure Great Falls would love for us to send our milk, almonds, grapes, etc. their way to be processed, but it’s not likely to happen in my lifetime.

But never forget they are out there. And they are cheaper. While there may have been a time where cheaper was best when it came to landing big industrial site selectors, it’s not the most effective way to market our area.

That’s why efforts such as the upcoming Fresno Food Expo are so important. We may not be the cheapest, but we are the most established and varied. That’s a story we must never stop telling, especially with Great Falls, Montana, nipping at the heels.

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