ED Secret from 004: Become THE Expert on Your Community

Dan Tobergte, President and CEO of Northern Kentucky Tri-ED, leads a team of ten in one of Kentucky’s first regional economic development organizations. Dan shared advice to his peers that he has accumulated during his thirty years in economic development.

Check out the except and link to the full interview below.


Well, first of all, you need to know your community, you need to learn your community, the product that you’re going to be marketing. You’re considered the front door a lot of times for your community, so you need to know interesting, sideline type of aspects about your community – not so much always factual, but you need to be able to develop rapport and relationships with those that you’re going to be dealing with. They’re going to be seeing a myriad of facts and data, and you need to be able to distill down and find out those items that are very, very important to the company.

Then, also have a way about it so that you can relate to them. You can give and take with a client, and be able to develop a rapport with them. Developing those relationships within the community so you can get to know the community; if you’re new to the community, you need to ingrain yourself and you need to know what makes the community tick.

You need to know what is going to transpire and what the trends are, where the community’s heading, where it’s going, what are its aspirations, and what you want to see accomplished in the next five years. What are some of the problems with your community, and what are some of the warts? If you try to espouse your community as being Utopia, they’re going to see right through you because Utopia doesn’t exist out there.

If you’ve got to be forthright with some of the issues that you’ve got, go ahead and do it. Our community produces a document that measures our success in a number of quality of life and jobs or related factors, against eleven other communities. We benchmark and we track how well we’re doing. Sometimes we’re not doing as well as we’d like to and we put those out as being elements that we’re working on. I think that is refreshing for clients to eventually see. We don’t show it to them right off the bat, but eventually they see it. They see this community that’s trying to strive to get better and I think that resonates. It all goes back to knowing your community, both the positives and the negatives, so that’d be the initial pieces of advice that I’d like to espouse.



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