Who’s on the Front Lines of your Economic Development?

130828-Front-LinesI’ve always been a huge believer that customer service is one of the most valuable pieces of brand development. Companies who have superior customer service are recognized as a stronger brand and tend to have better sales numbers than those without. Associations who put customer service first tend to have a greater number of members than those who do not. The fact of the matter is that sales are directly proportional to customer service. The same can be said for economic development.

So, how are you manning the front lines of your economic development efforts? 
Continue reading “Who’s on the Front Lines of your Economic Development?”

Digital Placemaking: The New Frontier of Community Development

Over the past few decades we’ve seen an explosion of research and work in the science and art of placemaking. The importance of design, public space and public art is being broadly appreciated and implemented in communities around the world, often with stunning results. But in today’s world of social networking, mobile devices and nearly ubiquitous internet connectivity, are solely physical placemaking activities enough?

People look online first for everything these days, and communities are no exception. While it’s definitely vital for your community to have a welcoming, unique and livable physical presence, what is your community’s online presence like? Is it as fresh and lively as the new public square that was just finished, or is it a mish-mash of outdated websites, incorrect business listings and forum posts from 2003? Continue reading “Digital Placemaking: The New Frontier of Community Development”

5 Tips for Economic Development Websites


We spend a lot of time visiting community websites as part of our strategy and community assessment work. Here are a few helpful hints (offered in order of priority) we find incredibly useful.

  1. Contact information – Above all else, on the “contact us” or similar page, include the names of each staff person, their title, direct email and phone number. Contact information forms or “info@” emails don’t cut it. It costs time and delays the process.
  2. Maps – On the home page, clearly identify the name of your community, the state in which it is located and a map (Google maps work great).
  3. Info Links – Avoid repurposing your industry or demographic data in a marketing or promotional format. Find a valid data source (government preferred) and link directly to the relevant data set when possible.
  4. Reports – These are helpful. Comprehensive plans, strategic documents, cluster studies, workforce analyses – the more the merrier – Just make sure they are the most recent reports or indicate which report is the most recent.
  5. Social Media – It’s here to stay. Building online communities are just as important as building physical communities. By creating and promoting your community or organization online, you increase stakeholder and funder interest in what you are doing.

Live by these five points and your website will be liked and useful.