Economic Developers Showcase Elite Communities Using Virtual Reality

Monday, August 28, 2017

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By Aaron Brossoit

How do you reach a CEO sitting in a boardroom, a thousand miles away or across the world? How do you capture the imagination and attention of a site developer sitting at their mahogany desk, sifting through a mile-high stack of proposals? Elite communities have discovered the answer – virtual reality.

Flyers and Glossy Brochures Are No Longer Enough

Amid those stacks of proposals will be information on a variety of communities, all with their own advantages. Among them could be your flyers and glossy brochures - the mainstay of presentation and marketing tools. The problem? They are not necessarily enough. Everyone has them. They are no longer special or unique, nor are the pens and coffee mugs that accompany them because all economic developers are using these promotional tools. Elite communities have learned to do more. Sophisticated economic developers know that there is far more value in creating immersive experiences and using technology to stand apart.

Use Technology to Differentiate Yourself

Economic developers take great pride in their community, are intimately familiar with its assets and eager to present them to the world. The challenge is that competition is fierce. There are only so many companies looking to relocate or expand and a plethora of economic developers vying for their attention. To stand out and rise above the noise, sophisticated economic developers have learned to get creative and do things to differentiate themselves. This may include fam tours or flying executives in from Europe and Asia, but these trips are expensive and based on the availability of decision-makers to attend, making them difficult to pull off. What if there was a better, easier and more affordable way to expose decision-makers to a community?

Now there is.

The future of technology is here in the form of virtual reality. Knowledgeable economic developers are leveraging it to differentiate themselves from the crowd and open the door to possibilities.

Entering a New World of Connectivity

Virtual reality removes the barriers posed by geography. With a 360 video, it is possible to create a truly immersive experience and virtual destination tour where executives and site selectors are transported to a community without ever leaving their chair. This opens the door to a whole new world where a site selector sitting in Palo Alto can slip on a head mounted display (HMD) and start walking a manufacturing floor in Ohio or stroll through fields in Nebraska with such clarity that they could almost feel the wheat between their fingers or jerk back at the site of sparks flying from welders forming their creations.

Elite communities focused on workforce attraction are using a virtual destination tour to showcase their quality of life advantages. Imagine attending a job fair in a nearby metropolitan area and instead of handing out flyers with pictures of parks, school statistics and brochures on various entertainment options you could bring the community to a prospective applicant. While wearing an HMD, they will be immersed in a virtual destination tour that allows them to run the bases at the local ballfield, walk their dog on beautiful trails with bright red leaves falling around them, or sit in a bright kindergarten classroom while children eagerly shout out the answers to their teacher’s questions. So immersive, so real is virtual reality that they will feel as though they are literally walking their dog around town, entering a coffee shop and ordering their favorite latte or listening to a concert in the park. A 360 video with spatial audio sound makes this possible because they can turn to see everything around them and hear sound coming from all sides, just like they would in real life. This means that they will hear a dog’s paws as they plop against the pavement, the bell ringing as the coffee shop door is opened and the whooshing sound of it closing behind them, the whirling of the espresso machine foaming the milk, the grinding of coffee beans and laughter coming from the back of the room. This type of immersive experience is incredible and far more real than watching a movie with surround sound. It is like opening the door to a new world and choosing to step through it.

Elite Communities Travel the World, Without Leaving Home

It is now possible for a community to be virtually transported into a bustling board room, quiet office or crowded career fair. Without ever leaving home, people can explore a town, tour warehouse space, experience what it is like to work in an office or walk through newly built homes in a matter of minutes, without hopping in the car or catching a flight. This level of connectivity and convenience is unprecedented and provides a unique opportunity for economic developers to grow their communities using virtual destination tours.

This is the next evolution in technology, one that is disruptive and will change the landscape of economic development. Elite communities are preparing by having 360 videos created that showcase their assets in an engaging and immersive way.

Today, sophisticated economic developers are inviting site selectors, executives and workers to step into their world and join them on a tour of exploration. Will you be one of them?

Stay connected,


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