Copperas Cove EDC board looks at possible virtual spec building to draw companies to Copperas Cove

By BRITTANY FHOLER
Cove Leader-Press

The Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation board of directors viewed a video presentation regarding a virtual spec building from Next Move Group during their meeting Wednesday afternoon. 
Interim Executive Director Diane Drussell had presented ideas/RFIs from different companies during the November board meeting, and the board had requested a presentation from Next Move Group.
Next Move Group co-founder Chad Chancellor and Tim Weston, of Jesco Construction Inc., participated via a Zoom call during Wednesday’s meeting. 
Chancellor walked the board through a presentation showing off what Next Move Group is capable of in terms of virtual spec buildings including the analytics behind them. 
“We built this company to really help small to midsize communities have luck attracting small to midsize companies. That’s really what our target is,” Chancellor said. 
Chancellor mentioned that one community, Shreveport, had wanted to go after sourcing an Amazon distribution center. 
“The real goal is to be able to go after the $500 million a year company, the billion dollar a year company that has multiple locations and needs a branch operation, and you can actually build relationships with them,” Chancellor said. “This tool can help you help them visualize your site. The reason that people used to build old fashioned spec buildings is it cut out time, and it helped prospects visualize the building on the site, so we can do both of those things with this tool for a whole lot cheaper than putting up a spec building.”
Next Move Group mainly does site selection projects, helping companies decide where to put their locations. They have partnered with Jesco Construction, which is one of their construction/engineering partners. Jesco’s focus for 81 years has been building manufacturing facilities in automotive, food and beverage and metals, according to Weston. 
A virtual building would show examples of what is possible to be built on a site coordinated by the EDC, without the EDC actually having to construct a site before there is an interested party. 
Previously, the EDC had built a spec building that eventually became the home of Cinergy Cinemas in 2008, but not before sitting vacant for years. 
As the presentation continued and provided examples of virtual spec buildings for other communities, Weston pointed out the different design aspects available, such as for a steel mill or metal facility that might have an L-figuration or concrete hard surface or coal storage next to the building. 
“It’s the things in this drawing and the layout and design, it’s a lot of smart decisions that a number of companies we’ve had in that sector have made and, and a company that’s got a full-process facility, they’re looking at this and, and it’s got a lot of things that’s going to be familiar to them and a lot of things that they want, and to me again, that’s the key, helping them paint the vision, a picture of a building that is similar to what they need in your community,” Weston said. 
Chancellor said that the designs are meant for prospectors to look and realize whether it would be a good fit. 
“In the design process, the schematic design is the first detailed piece of design work that we do,” Weston said. “All of this stuff is ready for the more detailed structural, chisel, you know, the building details- that’s kind of the next step in the in the design process. So, when you meet with a client, you can throw these on the table and really work off of them. They’re to scale. From a construction standpoint, they’re accurate and correct. You can build this facility at this point.”
EDC board chairman J.C. Stubbs asked about how the company would personalize the site to the local topography, layout size, etc. and whether the company would be making a physical trip to the area in order to build a virtual building specific to the location. 
Chancellor said that typically, they do go and do a site visit and make the design match up with the actual site. 
Another question asked was whether Jesco is a design/build firm, and the answer is yes. 
“We’re a design/build firm in all of those sectors that we do, and we’re also a design/build firm on the mechanical electrical process side as well, and then in addition, we also do industrial service work,” Weston explained. “We have a unique perspective on not just building and designing manufacturing plants, but we also operate, work with our manufacturers to operate and maintain these facilities. This kind of work, particularly the design, layout design, we’re uniquely qualified to do that kind of work.”
When asked how many virtual building packages have been done by Next Move Group and Jesco Construction and how many have led to project, Chancellor said they started offering this in 2017/2018 and Weston estimated that they have done more than 20 packages, with at least five that have successfully resulted in projects. 
 “I think it’s been more effective recently even than maybe it was early on, and some of that is because the availability of buildings across the United States is woefully low at this point, and activity is very, very high,” Weston said. “So, I think it’s probably a more effective tool today than it was five years ago.” 
The turnaround for this virtual building would be two to three months from when the board approves a starting point plus two to three weeks to build the webpage, which would remain the property of the EDC. 
Board member Joey Acfalle proposed that the board move forward with bringing an action item to the next meeting regarding a virtual building. 
 

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