24 Feb 2014

Four tactics to leverage economic development online

Anatalio Ubalde is an economic developer, entrepreneur, and inventor. He works with organizations throughout the nation to foster enhanced economic development strategies using Internet technology. His work in geographic information systems, economic development and the Internet has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Forbes, Fortune, The New York Times, TechCrunch, and Inc. In 2009 he was named a Fellow Member of the International Economic Development Council for achieving exceptional stature in the field of economic development.

The value of the Internet to enable economic development has never been more important and its value will only increase into the future. Here are four tactics economic development professionals can use to leverage the Internet to grow their local economies:

1. Help get local businesses online. Most businesses aren't online at all. Numerous businesses are working to address this because it's in their interest that more businesses are online. Companies like Google, Intuit, and domain registration companies provide low/no cost service to have a website. EDOs can provide workshops to help local businesses develop their own websites. Through the Internet, businesses can extend their market reach beyond the local market area. When they export goods or services, they become primary job creators for the local economy.

2. Empower local businesses to use the Internet for market research to grow their business. Economic gardening programs use business intelligence research to support existing businesses. Now EDOs are helping their local companies make smarter decisions through business intelligence data the EDOs make available on their own websites. Here is an example of how Oklahoma City uses its website to provide do-it-yourself market research to their local businesses.

3. EDOs can leverage their own websites. Websites are the most effective marketing strategy for EDOs and receive the highest percentage of marketing budgets. The most valuable items to have on an EDO’s website are 1. property inventory, 2. labor force availability and wages, 3. demographics, 4. infrastructure, 5. maps. You can see an example of an EDO website that provides this effectively. (For more information about rankings of economic development marketing effectiveness, check out the book Economic Development Marketing.)

4. Become a location-match for a company that didn't know it needed you. Before they ever make human contact, companies perform the majority of their decision-making process through online research for investment/purchasing decisions. Also, most businesspeople don't know even a tiny fraction of the communities in the nation, let alone the world. But the Internet is now enabling them to evaluate thousands of communities to start-up, expand, or relocate. They are accomplishing this through community site selection research portals like SelectUSA and ZoomProspector.com. These services help businesses find communities that they may not have known were ideal matches. Make sure your EDO is discoverable in the places that businesses are using to research community investment locations.

This post was published on the IEDC blog January 17th, 2014. 


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