Buildings that don't yet exist could be one answer to Yuma's economic future.
That might seem like an odd idea to many of us, but the leader of the Greater Yuma Economic Development Corp. sees “virtual buildings” as a way to attract businesses to our community.
Julie Engel, president and CEO of GYEDC, explained to the Yuma Sun recently that virtual buildings are ones which have been designed and received all the necessary permits to be built, but have not yet been constructed. The idea is that it could be quickly constructed with minor modifications for a business wanting to locate here.
Finding the right building can be the major factor in determining whether a business locates here. There may be vacant buildings available, but they may not fit the client's needs in terms of location, zoning, size or whatever need.
And because businesses these days don't particularly want to build their own structures from scratch and deal with all the extended planning and permitting required to do that, it often means they will look elsewhere to locate and Yuma County loses a potential employer, Engel noted.
Similarly, in today's economy local developers aren't as willing as they may have been in the past to construct speculative buildings and wait for someone to show up to occupy it. That can be a costly and inefficient approach for them.
That's where virtual buildings enter the picture. They are in essence ready to go. The process allows new businesses to make modifications to the plan to fit their particular needs, but the actual building process is shorter than starting from scratch.
Of course, a potential business would prefer to just have a building ready to go — and in some cases that may be possible from existing inventory — but virtual buildings are certainly an attractive option that holds promise for our community.
We hope it is an idea that catches on with local governmental leaders and with potential developers who are looking for a more cost-effective way to offer options to potential businesses coming to our area.