Updated September 28, 2020
Reflects KLA recent rebranding.
Business attraction projects of this scale require a significant amount of coordinated effort, from organizing in-market tours and conversations to providing critical data and insights. Ann Arbor SPARK was honored to work with the University of Michigan, Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), and KLA’s designated site selection firm, Deloitte, throughout the process.
In 2017, KLA’s interest in a new R&D center came to the attention of John McLaughlin, director of corporate and foundation relations for the University of Michigan College of Engineering. KLA was initially attracted to the region for its proximity to the university, its cultural vitality and quality of life, and its reputation for producing top engineering talent. It was John who reached out to Ann Arbor SPARK regarding the project, engaging Phil Santer, senior vice president and Alex West, director of research.
“While we had an existing relationship with KLA, there were a number of questions regarding talent, real estate, and incentives that SPARK could answer better than anyone else,” said John. “Having worked with SPARK previously, I knew engaging them early on was imperative.”
According to Phil, “Site selectors often credit the University of Michigan for giving Ann Arbor a strategic advantage compared to other destinations. For this project, it was great to work more closely with John and others at U-M who played a very active and collaborative role.”
Including hundreds of emails, dozens of phone calls and meetings, multiple site visits, and detailed responses to RFPs, one of the deliverables the SPARK team provided was a mobile-friendly, interactive map presenting key data points within a 50-mile and 100-mile radius of Ann Arbor. While much of this data is available individually, Alex was able to combine the information in a compelling, customized map of our region that overlaid companies, industries, and real estate. She then presented it within the context of the region, conveying greater insight and relevance specific to the project.
Another valuable service provided by Ann Arbor SPARK was the coordination of candid, confidential meetings with 20 area tech firms. According to Alex, “Once we made the introduction, we left the room giving KLA representatives the time to ask sensitive questions about regional talent attraction, real estate, and generally what it’s like to do business in Ann Arbor.”
“I recall that while we had scheduled a meeting between KLA and Duo Security, it was a short hallway conversation with Duo’s recruiting manager that provided a huge validation point about attracting talent within the region,” added Phil. “It also played in our favor that the Duo acquisition by Cisco was announced the morning of a follow-up KLA visit.”
Once conversations began to revolve around what a KLA presence in Ann Arbor could look like, it was time to explore available incentives including those coordinated by our state-level partner, the MEDC. “Ann Arbor SPARK can help companies navigate resources specifically designed to assist businesses starting, relocating, or expanding in the region,” said Phil. “By making the necessary introductions, we helped the KLA project become the second investment in the state to qualify for a brand new incentive tool that was available through the MEDC for these types of projects.”
Ann Arbor SPARK values the collaborative partnerships we have forged with the University of Michigan, MEDC, and hundreds of businesses and partners that comprise our growing tech eco-system. Site selectors interested in exploring Ann Arbor for business expansion or relocation can contact Phil Santer.
For more information about the KLA site selection process, check out The Project Podcast.