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The Critical Factors Used in Talent
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Jay Garner, CEcD, CCE, FM, HLM
Garner Economics, LLC 

Jay A. Garner, CEcD, CCE is the president and founder of Garner Economics, LLC, an economic development and site location consulting firm headquartered in Atlanta, Ga. Jay is a leader and innovator in the economic development profession, having served for 35 years as both an award-winning economic development, Chamber of Commerce CEO, and site location professional. His firm assists clients throughout the U.S., Asia and Europe on a wide variety of projects, offering innovative, yet real-world solutions to achieve success. Jay often lectures and provides counsel on creating and implementing proactive global business development strategies and tactics. His firm is also a leader in providing assistance to corporate clients in their site selection process, such as Anchor Glass, Academy Sports, Hatfield Quality Meats, Stork Food Systems, Future Pipe Industries and others. His firm is the exclusive provider of site location services for Primus Builders—a global leader in architecture, engineering and construction management specializing in food processing manufacturing, and their worldwide clients. He is a founding member and a member of the board of directors for the Site Selectors Guild, a prestigious group of the top site location consultants globally.

Jay is a graduate of West Virginia University with Bachelor of Arts and Master of Public Administration degrees.  He is also a graduate of both the Economic Development Course at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma, where he is an instructor in international prospecting. Jay has led over 25 trade and business development missions on four continents leading to the creation of thousands of jobs and several billion dollars in capital investment.  He is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD), a Fellow Member and an Honorary Life Member, the three highest professional designations awarded to those in the economic development profession by the International Economic Development Council.  He is also a Certified Chamber Executive (CCE), a professional designation awarded to Chamber professionals by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives Association. 

In 2009, the readers of Southern Business & Development magazine named Garner Economics as one of the best consulting firms in the U.S. As a practitioner, Jay was selected as one of ten outstanding leaders in economic development in the United States by Site Selection magazine while leading the economic development program in Mobile, Ala.  The same publication also recognized him for running one of the ten best development organizations in the U.S. for six consecutive years. The mayor and city council of Mobile declared July 29, 1994 as “Jay Garner Day” in the city for his nine years of exemplary service as chief economic development officer for the city/county. As CEO of the Asheville, N.C. Chamber of Commerce, the organization became the first Chamber in the U.S. to win a Quality Award by the North Carolina Quality Foundation based on the national Malcolm Baldrige criteria.  He was honored in both 2002 and 2003 by his alma mater, West Virginia University with Distinguished Alumnus Awards within the Department of Political Science and College of Arts and Sciences.

Jay is a past chairman for the International Economic Development Council, the largest economic development professional trade organization in the world. He is also a past chairman of the American Economic Development Council. An avid jazz drummer, he plays in a big band jazz orchestra in the Atlanta area.

Didi Caldwell
Global Location Strategies


Didi Caldwell, is a senior principal and co-founder of Global Location Strategies, a Greenville, SC based consultancy offering comprehensive site selection, incentive negotiation, real estate and other location strategy consulting services to corporations and economic development agencies. Didi is a member of the prestigious Site Selectors Guild, an internationally recognized organization comprised of the world’s most respected site location consultants.

 Ms. Caldwell has led consulting projects in North and South America, Europe and Asia in industries including automotive, life sciences, renewable energy, pulp and paper, chemicals, mining, textiles, logistics, consumer products, and power generation. She has assisted numerous companies with site selection, incentive negotiations and capital finance with a total investment value of over $27 billion. Past clients of Ms. Caldwell’s include Caesarstone, Conoco, Kuwait Petroleum, Procter & Gamble, the State of New York, and First Quality.

Didi was previously president of InRe Financial where she worked to arrange financing for approximately $1 billion in capital improvements to public school districts in South Carolina.

Ms. Caldwell has a bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Clemson University and an International M.B.A. from the prestigious Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. She has also lived in Australia, Mexico and Spain, and holds dual citizenship of the United States and Australia. She speaks English and Spanish.

Will Hearn
CBRE Business Location Consulting Group


William Hearn (Will) is Senior Vice President of CBRE's Business Location Consulting Group, as well as an affiliate member of CBRE’s Economic Incentives Group (EIG), based in Atlanta, Georgia. Over the past 20 years, Mr. Hearn has consulted leading global companies, supporting expansion, consolidation, relocation divestiture and M&A needs as it relates to location of facilities. Mr. Hearn has completed more than 200 site selection assignments, ranging from $5 million to $1.5 billion in capital investment. Mr. Hearn leverages his experience to ensure that clients focus on the most critical aspects of a project, resulting in smooth board decisions, comprehensive client input and a commitment to client schedule and cost requirements.

Mr. Hearn has completed assignments in all regions of the US and Canada, with significant experience in Asia, Europe, Southcentral Europe and Mexico, leveraging technical expertise, gleaned while leading a site selection consulting group at a global engineering and design firm. Mr. Hearn has supported clients across industries, including advanced manufacturing, chemicals and process, financial and insurance, biotech and life sciences, R&D, energy, shared services and call centers. Over the past five years, Mr. Hearn has supported some of the most dynamic investment projects from Germany and Japan into the US, including a large solar manufacturing plant and automotive projects.

Mr. Hearn has become recognized as an industry leader as a founding member of The Site Selectors Guild, a national association of site selection professionals founded in 2010. Mr. Hearn has served as paid advisor to states to address economic development and investment policy, and is a regular speaker at national events that address site selection and financial incentives issues. One such assignment resulted in the creation of a $75 million deal closing fund that received a 75% voter referendum approval. In 2008 and in 2010, Mr. Hearn led consulting engagements at The World Bank and USAID to address transitioning economies in eastern Europe, resulting in the creation of nine Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to encourage foreign investment.

Prior to joining CBRE, he served as a Senior Technologist and Director of Site Selection at CH2M Hill. Mr. Hearn began his career as an Industrial Trainee and IBM in Germany.