Six months ago I made a big move: I left my position as an economic developer for a community that I had invested my heart and soul in for three years to become an economic development consultant at Impact DataSource. The past six months have been a transition, but I have never once regretted this decision – I thank my lucky stars every day that I somehow stumbled upon what has quickly become my dream job. Impact DataSource is an economic development consulting company that performs economic and fiscal impact studies. We also provide models to clients (typically economic development organizations), that can help them formulate a more accurate incentive package, taking into account various ROIs at the city, county, and school district level. The company has gone through explosive growth over the past few years, becoming a team of eight and launching a streamlined web-based impact model, Impact Dashboard. This is going to sound horrible, but while I did learn a lot about economic development while being a Business Retention Manager, I have learned infinitely more while consulting with our current and prospective clients. Here are the most important lessons that our clients have taught me, and check out the links below where I flesh out each:
Regionalism – Actively seeking out ways to partner with surrounding communities will help you and your businesses.
Keep Your Data and Website Current – I know you’ve all heard this one before, but your website is THE MOST IMPORTANT TOOL for making a good first impression with prospects.
Social Media is Your Friend – Social media can really help you promote your community and various activities. Have you gone on Twitter and searched #EconDev lately?
Soak Up All the Articles and Webinars You Can – They have really helped me as good refreshers to the basic economic development course and I have a much deeper understanding of the field.
Strategic Plans vs. Performance Reports – It’ll be an adjustment to show your board what you have done using the performance reports, instead of only what you hope to do using a strategic plan.
Economic Developers Are Full of Wisdom – You MUST take time for yourself to grow in your own career by spending time with your ED peers. Listen to what they do in their communities, ask questions, ask for advice for your own community. Be sure to make time for conferences.