Where do I start my research? (Part 3)

May 2, 2013

Continuing the discussion of where to start research, I want to expand it.

As you recall, our focus was a plant owned by a competitor. Now that we have dealt with the issue of employees and labor costs, let’s look at the plant itself. How and where can we get information about the plant itself?

Keeping in mind the suggestion to follow the trail of the information, the earliest data on the plant would be from the engineering company and construction companies that actually built the plant. If it is a relatively new plant, you may be surprised to see a photograph of the plant and even details on the project on the home pages of such a company, even without information detailing the owner of the plant. Never overlook that source.

The next location of information would be in local zoning and building offices, which have to approve plans for the facility. They would have the original plans of the facility, plus those for updates and expansions over the years.

Now don’t forget other state and local offices for such information. In some states, every time you add equipment to a facility, there is a taxable transaction. That means these tax offices will have a list of equipment purchased to be used in or added to the facility. Similarly state offices that regulate air quality and water quality make well have filings about the facility. Getting those will longer than local filings, but they may be very useful once received.

If the facility is of recent vintage, there may have been participation from other state and local agencies before and during its construction, providing direct financial subsidies, relief from taxes, job-training assistance, and the like. Each of these programs is run by an office and represents a potential source not only of documents but also of people to interview about the facility.

Next, do not ignore the owner of the facility. Some companies proudly post, and then forget they left online, information about the plan, such as its capacity, the number of employees etc. Search for those – never assume they do not exist.

In addition, explore YouTube. If the facility was featured on cable shows such as “how do they make that”, there may be a copy of that show posted on YouTube. In addition, plants celebrating anniversaries or the completion of major projects often will prepare a video for local media, which ends up posted on YouTube as well. Now, in searching YouTube, you may see the same video multiple times, but that is much better than missing it completely.



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