Despite an uncertain operating environment and continuing concerns about the availability of skilled labor, plans for new and expanded facilities are still on the horizon, according to “33rd Annual Corporate Survey and 15th Annual Consultants Survey,” produced by Area Development, Westbury, N.Y.

About 40% of the 118 corporate survey respondents say they plan to open new facilities within the next five years, with around the same percentage saying the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) will affect future plans. However, only 29% say the trade war with China will affect their future plans.

In contrast, of the 65 consultant respondents, more than half say their clients’ future facility plans will be affected by the TCJA, and more than 70% believe the trade war with China, as well as new tariffs on aluminum and steel, will affect their clients’ future facility plans.

Availability of skilled labor is ranked as the No. 1 site selection factor by respondents, followed by labor costs and highway accessibility. The respondents also rank availability of skilled labor as the No. 1 factor in a three-way tie with proximity to major markets and highway accessibility.

As in past years, southern regions will garner the largest share of all the respondents’ planned new domestic facilities. Asia will only receive 13% of the corporate respondents’ new foreign establishments with a quarter going to Western Europe and a fifth to Mexico. The consultants’ clients are planning 19% of their projects for Asia, 17% for Western Europe and 15% each for Canada and for Mexico.