About Golden Shovel Agency

Golden Shovel Agency brings creative energy to the work of economic development. Whether the goal is to attract and support great businesses or great talent, we are specialists in your world: We’ve helped more than 230 communities across North America to shape and tell their stories in order to strengthen the vitality of their regional economies. Our core services include branding, marketing, strategy, web development, and online communications. More than that, we are a true partner to our clients.

Our Mission

At Golden Shovel, we believe thriving communities improve everyone’s lives.  Everything we do connects businesses and talent with communities they’ll thrive in. We do this by empowering economic developers through groundbreaking economic development communications.

Our Story

Here at Golden Shovel Agency, Economic development is built into our business DNA. Founded in 2009 by four partners, Aaron Brossoit, Ron Kresha, Jeffrey Epple, and Brian Westerberg, we began our life as a technology company, and we tailored our services to answer a specific problem: The need for a website solution that specifically addresses the requirements of economic development agencies.

Many ED organizations found frustration in trying to communicate their goals and strategies to outside agencies. Creative folks might be great at a catchy headline or a nifty graphic, but when it comes to the work of economic development, they often fall short.

To meet this need, we designed a web technology package, the Economic Gateway, as a flexible and dynamic suite of modules, specifically tailored to support business and workforce attraction and retention. In 2011 John Marshall joined the team as a partner and Vice President of Sales to bring the new technology to market.

Since then, our services have evolved to meet the ever-changing needs of our clients in the dynamic world of economic development. We helped pioneer the approach of collaboration across broad economic regions, which now has emerged as a key strategy for economic development. And we’ve also led the way in tactics to capitalize on the incipient world of social media, using the concept of narrative placemaking to build compelling stories that differentiate regions and their development potentials.

Over the years, our dedicated focus has led us further into the realm of economic development. We regularly present at national conferences, and our webinars and workshops are in high demand. Most of our clients have stayed with us through the entire journey; our dedication to service, and our unique expertise in Economic Development, has resulted in an industry-leading client retention rate.

As we grow and look to the future, we continue to evolve to meet the challenges of modern economic development. We invite you to grow with us.


The Virtual Company Manifesto

As an agency focused on economic development, we are steeped in the world of site selection and talent retention. As a business, we’ve pioneered a unique solution to answer both issues. From our founding, we determined that we would operate as a virtual agency, and over the years that’s had a significant impact on how we work and on our business culture. Below are some of the values that inform our virtual operations:


Recent research shows that among the key indicators for quality of life is the choice of where you live. By operating virtually, we grant our professional staff the freedom to make this life choice for themselves. Our employees live all across the continent—in the rural Midwest down to Mexico and on both the East and West Coasts. We respect their freedom to choose.

This freedom also applies to day-to-day operations. No matter how many foosball tables, chair massages, or catered lunches a bricks-and-mortar agency throws at its staff, the constraints of an 8-hour work day in an office cubicle (or open floorplan) still apply. Our virtual office releases our staff from these constraints. You do your best work at 2 a.m. in your backyard gazebo? Fine with us—we’re simply delighted to receive your best work.

We feel that our policy of letting our staff choose where, when, and how to work breeds innovation and engagement. An empowered staff is more likely to take risks, propose new ideas, and try new strategies.


Along with freedom, as the old saying has it, comes responsibility. At Golden Shovel Agency, we take this adage very seriously. In our case, we feel that respecting other’s choices builds their capacity for self-respect and mutual accountability. Ours is a handshake culture, built on trust, where individual choices are always respected. Not everyone thrives in a virtual environment, but those that do, love it and would not trade it for anything.


One of the main arguments for a bricks-and-mortar workplace is that it encourages communication through social interaction, especially across disciplines. At a virtual organization like ours, there’s no “water-cooler talk,” where, say, an engineer and a designer might have a eureka moment.

The tradeoff of an office environment is that much of the social interaction is a distraction from deadlines, milestones, and project timelines. After a day filled with meetings, check-ins, lunch dates, and brainstorming sessions, there’s often little time to actually get anything done.

At Golden Shovel Agency, we communicate as needed, and no more than that. Our focus is on our clients and the tasks at hand. Each of us has a job to do, and we use open communication as a tool in service of that job.


Add to ReportView Custom Report