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20 Things Economic Development Agencies Should Do In 2020

20 Things Economic Development Agencies Should Do In 2020

December 3rd, 2019

by Ian Smith

As 2019 quickly comes to a close, planning at economic development agencies from around the globe for 2020 is kicking into high gear.   

A brand new year always brings promises to begin new initiatives and continue the execution of existing plans. In order to be organized, agencies should have a “to-do” list for the upcoming year.  

Here is a list of possible initiatives to consider for your agency.

  1. Update website -  In order to capture the attention of investors and site selectors, it is important that the agency’s website contain current content.  If your agency’s website does not have a news section, it is time to get one.  In the same vein, sectors profile should be updated with the latest statistical data and descriptions.
  2. Content strategy – Are you finding that your website and presence on social media is not receiving enough visitors or views or shares?  Consider building or improving your content strategy.  This may require the assistance of a digital media consultant.
  3. Training of personnel -  The world of economic development is always in the state of flux and your agency’s personnel should be trained on an annual basis.
  4. Attend conferences – Conferences are also great opportunities to keep in touch with industry peers.  In addition, your agency’s personnel can learn about other economic development initiatives in other regions.
  5. Track competing regions – If your agency is planning to go head-to-head with a particular region in terms of attracting investment dollars, it maybe time to be proactive   and begin tracking information on news and companies that are creating jobs.
  6. Marketing Strategy – Having issues getting word out about your agency’s efforts?  Consider improving your marketing strategy to evaluate what is going well and what needs to be improved.
  7. Connect with local stakeholders – It is important to get out of your office and meet local stakeholders to get an idea of what their needs are in terms of economic development initiatives.  This will assist you in modifying plans and reallocating resources.
  8. Conduct research on industries – Keeping abreast of developments in key industries in your region is always wise.  Knowing about new players and product will permit your agency to seek out opportunity for new leads for investors.
  9. Take a look at best practices – Need an inspiration to rejuvenate your approach for a specific initiative, examine current best practices.  Be it nationally or globally, best practices examples are opportunities to gain insights from professionals that face similar challenges as your agency.
  10. Benchmark your region -  Are you really aware of how your region stacks up with similar regions seeking to attract foreign direct investment?  Try benchmarking your region using some key indicators and spot your strengths and weaknesses.  It is a great strategic analysis exercise.
  11. Improve internal communications – It is always a good thing to ensure that all members of the agency are on the same page for a variety of initiative.  In order to do so, consider frequent conference calls to discuss key issues amongst senior managers or executives.
  12. Strengthen your network – Networking is a very underrated activity that economic development agencies take for granted.  A strong and wide-ranging network can assist in future initiatives which may require reaching out to others outside the agency’s ecosystem.   This exercise should be an on-going effort by everyone in the agency.
  13. Plan for 2021 – Even though we are going into 2020, it always wise to plan ahead for 2021.  Whether it is an initiative started in 2020 or a new project for 2021, it is best to have a game plan of how you will get things done successfully.
  14. Follow up with potential leads – Did not get a series of investors in the region in 2019?  Why not call up those companies and see what their plans are for 2020.  Get on their radar for any potential expansion plans for the future.
  15. Take an inventory of available space in industrial parks - If the phone rings tomorrow and a site selector asks about the amount of available space in one of your industrial park, would you be able to reply to the question?  Providing current and precise information is very important when it comes to attracting investors.  Be sure to have the current data handy.
  16. Collaborate with other regional agencies – When budgets are reduced, agencies are forced to do more with less.  With this in mind, consider collaborating with other agencies on similar objective project goals is a very good idea. 
  17. Have brainstorm sessions - Having trouble generating new ideas to bring wealth to your region?  Host brainstorming sessions with stakeholders that have their own objectives to reach.  Be sure to have the sessions on a regular basis to build on the suggestions put forth by individuals.
  18. Conduct Google search for mentions of the agency online - When was the last time that someone in the agency read what was published on the web about the agency?  This kind of counter-intelligence research will allow the agency to see if there is unfavourable content that can damage the reputation of the agency and the region.
  19. Write white papers - Proud of a recent accomplishment at the agency?  Why not write a white paper to document it and turn it into a promotional piece of content.  Be sure to include keywords to help individuals find it on the web.
  20. Create a “wish list” – Needed something in 2019 but did not obtain it for budgetary reasons?  Create a “wish list” to be a reference for the future when funding will be available.
Happy Holidays and all the best for 2020!!!