Factors Influencing Industrial Location

Generally, location of industries is influenced by economic considerations though certain non-economic considerations also might influence the location of some industries. Maximisation of profit which also implies cost minimization is the most important goal in their choice of particular places for the location of industries. There are several factors which pull the industry to a particular place. Some of the major factors influencing location are discussed below:

1. Availability of raw materials: In determining the location of an industry, nearness to sources of raw material is of vital importance. Nearness to the sources of raw materials would reduce the cost of production of the industry. For most of the major industries, the cost of raw materials form the bulk of the total cost. Therefore, most of the agro-based and forest-based industries are located in the vicinity of the sources of raw material supply.

2. Availability of Labour: Adequate supply of cheap and skilled labour is necessary for and industry. The attraction of an industry towards labour centres depends on the ratio of labour cost to the total cost of production which Weber calls ‘Labour cost of Index’. The availability of skilled workers in the interior parts of Bombay region was one of the factors responsible for the initial concentration of cotton textile industry in the region.

3. Proximity to Markets: Access to markets is an important factor which the entrepreneur must take into consideration. Industries producing perishable or bulky commodities which cannot be transported over long distance are generally located in close proximity to markets. Industries located near the markets could be able to reduce the costs of transport in distributing the finished product as in the case of bread and bakery, ice, tins, cans manufacturing, etc. Accessibility of markets is more important in the case of industries manufacturing consumer goods rather than producer goods.

4. Transport Facilities: Transport facilities, generally, influence the location of industry. The transportation with its three modes, i.e., water, road, and rail collectively plays an important role. So the junction points of water-ways, roadways and railways become humming centres of industrial activity. Further, the modes and rates of transport and transport policy of Government considerably affect the location of industrial units. The heavy concentration of cotton textile industry in Bombay has been due to the cheap and excellent transportation network both in regard to raw materials and markets.

5. Power: Another factor influencing the location of an industry is the availability of cheap power. Water, wind, coal, gas, oil and electricity are the chief sources of power. Both water and wind power were widely sought at sources of power supply before the invention of steam engine. During the nineteenth century, nearness to coal-fields became the principal locating influence on the setting up of new industries, particularly, for heavy industries. With the introduction of other sources of power like electricity, gas, oil, etc. the power factor became more flexible leading to dispersal and decentralization of industries.

6. Site and Services: Existence of public utility services, cheapness of the value of the site, amenities attached to a particular site like level of ground, the nature of vegetation and location of allied activities influence the location of an industry to a certain extent. The government has classified some areas as backward areas where the entrepreneurs would be granted various incentives like subsidies, or provision of finance at concessional rate, or supply of power a cheaper rates and provision of education and training facilities. Some entrepreneurs induced by such incentives may come forward to locate their units in such areas.

7. Finance: Finance is required for the setting up of an industry, for its running, and also at the time of its expansion. The availability of capital at cheap rates of interests and in adequate amount is a dominating factor influencing industrial location. For instance, a review of locational history of Indian cotton textile industry indicates that concentration of the industry in and around Bombay in the early days was mainly due to the presence of rich and enterprising Parsi and Bhatia merchants, who supplied vast financial resources.

8. Natural and Climatic Considerations: Natural and climatic considerations include the level of ground, topography of a region, water facilities, drainage facilities, disposal of waste products, etc. These factors sometimes influence the location of industries. For instance, in the case of cotton textile industry, humid climate provides an added advantage since the frequency of yarn breakage is low. The humid climate of Bombay in India and Manchester in Britain offered great scope for the development of cotton textile industry in those centres.

9. Personal Factors: In deciding location of industrial units, sometimes an entrepreneur may have personal preferences and prejudices against certain localities. For instance, Mr. Ford started to manufacture motor cars in Detroit simply because it was his home-town. In such cases, personal factor dominates other considerations. However, this kind of domination is rare.

10. Strategic Considerations: In modern times, strategic considerations are playing a vital role in determining industrial location. During war-time a safe location is assuming special significance. This is because in times of war the main targets of air attacks would be armament and ammunition factories and industries supplying other commodities which are required for war. The Russian experience during the Second World War provides and interesting example.

11. External Economies: External economies also exert considerable influence on the location of industries. External economies arise due to the growth of specialized subsidiary activities when a particular industry is mainly localized at a particular centre with port and shipping facilities. External economies could also be enjoyed when a large number of industrial units in the same industry were located in close proximity to one another.

12. Miscellaneous Factors: Historical incidents also play a dominating role in determining the location of industries in certain cases. The development of cotton-textile industry in Lancashire provides an interesting example for this. Further, the size of and industrial unit would also have much influence in choosing location. This is because the size of industrial units depends upon the radius of the circle within which they can profitably distribute their goods and upon the density of population living within the circle.