You ever know the moment things suddenly go off kilter? In this case, I knew the demo had gone south when the senior economic developer in attendance exclaimed “You’re going to take away our jobs!”
This EDC had a narrow, highly selective assortment of data on their website, but didn’t want more, preferring to force site selectors and businesses to call or email them directly. They also had a large presence at trade shows like ICSC where they handed out free goodies from local businesses and branded promotional items.
I wasn’t able to engage in a conversation with this ED executive because she was clearly reacting out of fear and not open to any rational conversation. So I’ll put this right here instead: We don’t want to eliminate your job!
Some of the people reading this blog post may recall how, in the early 1980’s when the ATM debuted, it was feared that this would kill bank branches and all those bank employees would be sacked.
While the number of bank branches has indeed declined and ATMs have proliferated, you can still find a major bank or credit union branch in almost every neighborhood, either as a standalone facility or within a supermarket or mall.
While banks do still use physical branches, they now also deploy ATMS in all sorts of stores, including gas stations, while also still engaging their clients via the Internet, telephone touch tone services, and social media. They employ people to handle all these interactions, even if the customers don’t always see them face to face.
Similarly, any business evaluating your community is going to first look for data on your demographics, business environment, consumer spending, and more while they are doing research online. Many times their first “go to” will be the economic development website or page for the community they are evaluating.
Even professional site selectors and larger corporations will do this to 1) save time on getting the attention of internal resources 2) make it part of their vetting process to see how knowledgeable and up front the economic development staff really is.
For smaller companies, their only source for relevant data will be your webpage/site/staff. Consequently, it is a tremendous advantage to economic development staff to have relevant, easy to access and understand, up-to-date data on their public website.
As our internal research has proved, site selectors will first go to the ED website/webpage for information, and if they do not find it, they will eliminate that community from their list of candidates, often without the economic developers even knowing they were under consideration. No one wants to lose leads like that.
There is also the issue of the economic development staff having limited time and people: there is simply no way to interact with every single business that might be interested in their community.
ZoomProspector Enterprise enables economic developers to serve the entirety of their prospects, from Mom and Pops to the Amazons and Boeings of the world.
With our combination of GIS Planning, Google and Lead Forensics, we give economic developers insights into which organizations are going to their ZoomProspector Enterprise site, and which properties and community criteria is of particular interest, so they can qualify which organizations require their focus.
Smaller businesses can often get everything they need directly a community’s ZoomProspector Enterprise GIS data tool. They can also easily email or download what they need for their business plans or loans. If they need to contact the EDC, it will be with very specific questions, thus minimizing the time spent by EDO staff and maximizing the value delivered by the ED Staff.
EDOs that believe in the “old school” version of economic development where all contact must be one-on-one, and where site selectors or businesses are made to jump through hoops to engage with the EDO, will quickly find themselves outdated and outpaced by the innovators.