Economic Development Websites

I have been blogging on criteria suggested by others for local government economic development websites.  Over the past year I have been researching information on this topic and have viewed hundreds of websites of Ohio communities and a few communities in other states.  I have also spoken with a few national and regional site selectors.  Two of them told me that once their client establishes the location criteria (and possibly a geographic preference), the site selectors do not really look for a location to place their client.  Instead, they look for locations to eliminate!  Further, the people with whom I have spoken and from what I have gleaned in print information, approximately 70% of the site location work that is being done, is being done regionally; only about 30% is being done across state lines.  They are also telling me that 80% of site selection activity is being done online – by visiting community and county economic development websites.  This is beyond the 50% figure that I have been using.

The regional concept makes the composition of, the information available and the ability to navigate a community’s website even more important. Recently, I have taken this information and have tried to synthesize it into an understandable checklist.  Some of the more technical “compliance issues” (your IT folks will understand this) have been left out at this point – as I am trying to understand it better.

Below is a portion of The CDJ Economic Development Website Checklist.

Key topic headings include: Agency Information, Site Information , Geographic Information and Tax/Utility Information.   Some of the checklist items might seem like no brainers (i.e., Is the agency contact NAME and information on each page?).  You might be surprised how many city and county ED websites either do not include any of this information, or they do not include a person’s name.  One site selection professional wrote in a LinkedIn column, that if there is not a contact name, he goes on to the next website!   The idea behind the website checklist is to make communities more competitive at the web level.  In other words, don’t just consider the information as location information, but look at it as a way to stay in the search process and to not give a site selector a reason to eliminate you from consideration.

We hope you find this useful.  If you have any questions about any of the checklist information, or would like information on the remainder of the list, or need assistance to “bulk up” your website, please contact Charley Bowman at CDJ Consulting at 330-541-3128 or by email at cbowman@cdjconsulting.net.

AGENCY INFORMATION

Is agency contact name and information on each page?
Is Economic Development listed on home page?
Is the Agency contact name and information on each page?
Is Economic Development listed on home page?
Can a person find incentives information without leaving the site?
Are Economic Development services listed?
Can the website be easily updated by staff?
Is there use of social media?  (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc)
Is there any ED News?  Recent or completed projects?  New businesses?
Is information up-to date? (no more than 30 days old)
How many clicks to the Economic Development page?
How long does it take for pages to load?

SITE INFORMATION
Is there a listing of sites/buildings by use ?
Are there photos of sites/buildings?
What are the site characteristics?
What are the costs/rental rates of buildings/sites ?
Are sites connected by a GIS system ?
Contact name and information of property owner/agent ?

GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION
Is there a city map, county map and regional map ?
Are the maps interactive ?
Do maps show proximity to highways, rail, airports, ports ?
Do the maps show site characteristics (wetlands, etc) ?
Have environmental studies (where applicable) been conducted ?

TAX & UTILITY INFORMATION
Can tax information be found?
Can tax information be calculated on the website site ?
Is there municipal utility rate information ?
Is there information on the community’s water/sanitary sewer capacity ?
Can utility information be calculated on-site?
Are tap-in fees listed on the site?

Again, for more information about economic development websites, please contact Charley Bowman at 330-541-3128 or at cbowman@cdjconsutling.net

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About Economic Development Data Services, Inc.

EDDS is a company focused on providing effective, efficient solutions for local governments in the areas of community and economic development and strategic planning. We offer the BARC - Business Assistance Recruitment Calculator - tool and website solutions in developing economic development websites. Our new website is www.econdevdataservices.com
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