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Relocation expert says LI's high costs not biggest hurdle to companies

Phil Schneider, president of the Site Selectors Guild,

Phil Schneider, president of the Site Selectors Guild, speaks during an event hosted by The Association for a Better Long Island in Melville on Thursday, March 26, 2015. Credit: Barry Sloan

Compared to other regions in the United States and abroad, the cost of doing business on Long Island is not as large a hurdle to business growth and expansion as some might think, a corporate relocation expert told Long Island commercial real estate professionals Thursday in Melville.

"Yes, there are some relatively high costs here," said Phil Schneider, president of the Site Selectors Guild, an industry group of consultants who help companies relocate. "But I would say most successful urban regions in the United States have high costs."

Schneider said areas like Boston, San Diego and Seattle have done well in attracting businesses despite their high cost of doing business.

Schneider made the remarks at an event hosted by the Association for a Better Long Island, a developer lobbying group.

When looking at possible relocations or expansions, companies are increasingly concerned with access to key markets and an area's ability to develop, retain and attract talent, he said.

He said Long Island can leverage its access to New York City's market and its talent pool.

Schneider, also president of Illinois-based Schneider Consulting LLC, conducted an informal two-day field report on the region last fall -- roughly the amount of time companies spend evaluating potential relocation opportunities.

One finding: Long Island lacks a unified voice for interested businesses to contact. "Nobody from the site selector world or companies from outside the area care about local jurisdiction issues," he said.

Companies and their consulting site selectors expect Long Island to "act like one area, particularly when you're trying to attract or retain business."

Because the Island hasn't seen a major out-of-state relocation of 500 employees or more in the last 60 years, Schneider said, any growth it has had is likely a result of "cannibalizing deals," which lure firms from one local region to another.

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