6 Economic Restructuring Tips for Communities

12 Dec

Did you miss our Downtown Institute in November? Hazel Hartbarger, Deputy Director of the Arvada Economic Development Association, shared these tips for economic development

1. Communicate with all departments in the community. Everyone should know what the economic development team is doing all the time. For example, code enforcement should be a close partner of economic development. If a business is in code violation, economic development should know about it, and be an ally to business and an intermediary between businesses and city departments.

2. Educate the community about economic development.

  • Build awareness about the importance of economic development amongst town/city employees and businesses and employees. Everyone in the community has a stake in economic development.
  • Consider hosting a breakfast for all employees or town staff. Pose questions about the community (how many residents does the community have, how much parking space, what are the advantages of doing business here, etc.) so that everyone can be informed.

3.       Spread the word that your community is “open for business.”

  • Communicate with local realtors. They are often the best salespeople for your community, and the first point of contact for new businesses.
  • Learn which types of businesses people in your community want and let realtors and other community ambassadors know!
  • When visiting other communities, give your card, or your economic developer’s card, to businesses that you would like to see in your community, or that you think would be a good fit. Often, the invitation goes a long way.
  • Enlist the help of local realtors to put together a list of available real estate to show potential businesses.

4. Demonstrate that your commercial district is a fantastic place to do business.

  • Create an economic development brochure or annual report with quality photos. Hold a photo contest and give a $100 gift card (ideally donated by a local business) to 1st prize. Or ask local businesses for quality photos (a bakery, for example) to showcase the business community (and give them free advertising!).
  • Gather testimonials to demonstrate why a business would want to locate to your community. When a business says something nice about the community, write it down, and ask them if you can use it later.

5. Support and advocate for the local businesses.

  • Be your businesses’ cheerleader and advocate. Being an entrepreneur means investing your life into something—and they have chosen to invest their lives in YOUR community. Be empathetic, be their advocate, and be in their corner.
  • Let businesses know that you will be on their side—if they need help, they can call economic development.

6. Acknowledge your local partners.

  • Send thank you notes to public works departments, wastewater, etc. or acknowledge them in a community-wide newsletter. For example, “Did you know that you did not miss a single business day last year because of the hard work of the Wastewater Department?” Give them recognition for the services they provide, and they will help with economic development work.
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