The Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition launched a Web site last week designed to help connect the area more quickly and effectively to site selectors.
LocationScout, a search engine at www.gwedc.org /locationscout, is designed to provide comprehensive site information about south-central Kansas to site selectors.
It's a way to get more information about local properties quickly into the hands of the people choosing sites for businesses, said Shaun Donnelly, managing director of technology at Fast Facility, a New York-based real estate software firm that designed LocationScout.
"In the past, there's been a ladder climb between the idea that a business wants to expand and having the operation built and people employed," Donnelly said.
"You're talking about being six or seven steps up before you ever meet a person. This way, by the time your people meet prospects, those people know where you are, an awful lot about your community, and they've made a lot of decisions."
Online databases are critical to industrial recruitment, said Vicki Pratt Gerbino, the GWEDC president.
"Site selectors typically begin their search online without talking to anyone," she said.
"Regions must have as much information online as possible, including available sites and buildings, depending on the project. Site selectors have hundreds of communities to choose from, and we must make it as easy as possible for them to keep us on the list."
The site goes beyond Google Maps to advanced Geographic Information System features like Bird's Eye and Street View. It also has a user interface that allows site selectors or other users to build customized reports, including demographics, infrastructure, transportation and area businesses.
"It provides a sense of an area that you'd never get otherwise," Donnelly said. "There's nothing better than a physical trip ... but this is the very next best thing to being there."
The site also is an opportunity for direct contact between the region's commercial real estate brokers and site selectors.
"Any kind of quick turnaround of information is good overall," said David Leyh, a broker with Landmark Commercial Real Estate in Wichita. "There's always a need for great ways to source information about Wichita and Sedgwick County."