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National Economic Development Week 2018

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

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The Golden Shovel Agency Team is excited to celebrate National Economic Development Week, May 7th through May 11, 2018. This is a fantastic way to increase awareness to the hard-working economic developers across the United States and especially to our clients who are committed to increasing awareness to their communities. Thank you for building our communities and helping the next generation succeed.

Economic development, by definition, has the goal of improving the well-being and quality of life for any state, region or community by expanding the businesses, expanding the workforce and growing incomes so the tax base can be expanded. In our current global competitive times and low unemployment the economic developer’s job is especially difficult. No matter what area of the country you reside and no matter what your community’s industry focus there are short and long-term challenges to resolve.

The modern economic developer is not just a community advocate anymore. The modern economic developer must be an expert in business financing, workforce attraction, global competition pressures, marketing specialist and business planning and a startup consultant. The modern economic developer, to put in simple terms, is essential.

If you are an economic developer or on an economic development board, the Golden Shovel Team would like to offer a helpful set of strategies and best practices assembled by Catalina Valencia in her article “5 Best Practices for Economic Developers”.  The article originally appeared in Governing magazine on May 17, 2017 and the five lessons, listed below, still apply today.

  1. Align key stakeholders around a common vision
  2. Know and develop your available sites and buildings
  3. Assume the role of gatekeeper
  4. Implement a business retention program
  5. Benchmark

While we would never claim this list is an extensive list, we do believe it is a great reminder of the depth of economic development and the important job that our economic developers do.

Another understated essential duty of any economic developer is the lead storyteller and narrator for the community. The Golden Shovel Agency Team would like to offer the following best practices for telling a community story and attracting a following.

1. Crafting a workforce attraction strategy

The demand for skilled labor continues to burden communities and U.S. employers. Manufacturing is on the rise, but the manufacturing jobs have become technical and precise. These workers are being trained and retrained and are becoming available; however, the key is finding the workers. 

Your community workforce strategy needs to appeal to these workers. This means building a successful online presence targeting these workers. These workers are on their phones and actively participating in the social media sphere; they will click on links and they won’t stay engaged very long so grab their attention.

2. Narrative placemaking and successful story creation

Stories have always appealed to people. Stories sell ideas and attract people to places. If you cannot look at your online presence and recite the narrative, you will need to rethink the story you are presenting to your audience.

Own your story and proudly boast of your community, the people and the opportunities. Too often communities try to imitate another community or miss some of the important aspects of their story. It is important to be authentic and genuine.

3. Effectively using social media

We all the know the statistics about the high percentage of mobile phone users. It is clear that social media has become an influential medium. What is not so clear is how to leverage social media. The best approach is a straightforward strategy consistently applied with a coordinated message.

Many communities are focusing on Facebook because the medium is comfortable for the economic development professionals. But it is more important to look at the adoption rates and usage and set aside comfort for a specific platform.  According the the Pew Research Center Social Media Fact Sheet social media adoption has risen from 5% of Americans in 2005 to 69% today.

This report reveals that U.S. adults use Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn as the main platforms. A couple of trends stand out. College graduates have a 49% adoption rate for LinkedIn and are by far the highest users of LinkedIn. So when you evaluate your workforce consider the education level and the social media platform they are using. It is  interesting to note that urban users prefer LinkedIn more than suburban users and lastly rural users.

Based on the adoption rates, target your messages to the people you wish to attract. Find which social media platform they are using and you will be ahead of the curve.

4. Tracking success

If you are not tracking the success of your campaign and adapting the messages and implementation for better return on investment, your online marketing efforts will stagnate. There are so many tools today to track marketing effectiveness.

In Facebook and LinkedIn, you should start by following the likes, views and shares. In both of these platforms, it is easy to create a paid campaign and target visitors. The reporting is insightful and easy. You should not just publish a post and forget about it.

Also, your website is still your best online marketing tool. With website traffic software, you can measure all the traffic and identify visitors. This is simply a must in the world today. If your community is not evaluating the visitors, you are missing out on entrepreneurs and business owners exploring options and communities. In today’s competitive economic development environment, even missing one or two interested prospects can be detrimental. Why take the chance of missing the next growth opportunity?

In conclusion, we know the importance of your job. Congratulations on the work you do! And, this week of National Economic Development we recognize your efforts.

Golden Shovel Agency Team

Category: News, Blog

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