IEDC Annual Conference – Houston (Tuesday Impressions)

Day #3 of the IEDC Conference.  Today started with some early morning preparation for my panel participation this afternoon.  I got to meet Jim Walton (CEO, Brand Acceleration, Inc.) the moderator, and fellow panelists Jay Garner CEcD (President, Garner Economics) and Isabelle Poirier (Founder, Intelegia Consulting).  We had a great warm-up conversation about social media.  Wow, what a brilliant group.  I will be meeting Eric Canada (Partner, Blane, Canada Limited) our fourth panelist later. Clearly I will  have a challenge holding my own, but I am looking forward to the opportunity to share the podium with this team.

The title of the session is Audience Driven Economic Development Web Strategies.

This morning I also had an opportunity to meet with some more people at the exhibits.  I chatted with the folks at Business Facilities.  I am a speaker later this month at their Live Xchange event n Florida.  I will be talking about the importance of a positive relationship between CEOs and community development.  My main message will be that, in my opinion, the private sector is in the best position to lead the strategic planning exercise for their communities.  Hopefully I will inspire some new discussions between these CEOs, site selectors and local economic development professionals.

American Dream Composite Index

I spent a lot of time in the morning sharing information about the American Dream Composite Index with as many people as I could.  As background, I am on a mission to change the discussion in US economic development from a myopic focus on jobs to enabling Americans to actually realize more of the American Dream.  I have been talking with the team at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio about the application of their work in economic development.  The Team has created a survey based index that reports the degree to which the American Dream is being realized.  The data is available on a national and multi-state basis at this point in time and I am hoping the Team can find a way to make it available on a state and major MSA level.  The vision is economic development professionals and elected officials will have discussions on identifying strategies that will help citizens realize more of the American Dream.  The motivation is the ability to do state-versus-state, or MSA-versus- MSA comparisons to identify competitive strengths and weaknesses.  The index is defined by 35  dimensions.  Specific strategies regarding choices on asset creation, infrastructure investment and public policy reform can be developed to minimize competitive weaknesses and maximize competitive advantages.  Ultimately these choices will result in citizens indicating that they are realizing the American Dream to a higher degree.  I think helping Americans achieve the American Dream is the right performance measure for the economic development profession.

Here are a few links that will give you a bit more background –

Interview With The American Dream Composite Index Team

How Authentic is Brand America’s Promise

Time To Change The Dialogue

Using The American Dream Composite Index To Identify Gaps

If you get a minute, skim through the posts and leave me a comment.  I am really interested in your feedback and questions.  I will be writing another post on the ADCI that illustrates how a state can utilize the data.

Strengthening Brand America Website

I want to thank everybody who reached out to say hello and for the positive comments on the  website.  I can’t tell you how motivating your encouragement is and how much I appreciate you taking the time to give me feedback.

Audience Driven Economic Development Web Strategies

I think the session went well, but would love your thoughts.  As I expected, the panel was impressive and I learned a lot.  The slides will be made available by the IEDC after the Conference.  Here are the main points I tried to make.

  • Based on the latest DCI survey of executives, 76% of the time a short list of locations for due diligence is created without talking to an economic development professional.  That means 76% of the time your community’s image determines if it is on the short list or not.  A strong online presence is no longer nice to have, it is mandatory for success.  Without it, you will be left competing for a share of 24% of investment opportunities.
  • You need to approach the choice of online media channels from a strategic perspective.  You need to define – 1) Who you want to talk to (segmentation), 2) What you want to say (value proposition), 3) When you need to say it (understanding the capital investment decision process) and 4) Where to say it (touchpoint analysis).
  • If you are going to invest in online media resource the exercise adequately or don’t waste your budget.
  • Your website is the most important element of your online media mix, get it right.
  • Social media is not free.  It is a shift from out-of-pocket expense to overhead cost.
  • If you want to have a successful online effort, stop developing material that strokes your ego and start developing material that solves customer problems.
  • A book I recommend is “The New Rules of Marketing & PR” authored by David Meerman Scott.  I learned a lot from the book and think you will enjoy it as well.  By the way, if you are okay with used books, you can buy a copy for $3.00.  It will be the best $3.00 you’ll invest this year.


I didn’t get to any sessions other than the one I was a panel member of.  Today turned out to be a day of talking with colleagues.  I also had the opportunity to join my fellow Buckeyes for dinner thanks to both David Robertson (Principle, The Montrose Group) and Kenny McDonald CEcD (Chief Economic Officer, Columbus 2020).  My wife Claudia and I really appreciated the invitation and camaraderie.  I am hoping you find this update helpful.  Tomorrow is a short day and a long flight home. But, I am feeling like this has been a great learning meeting.  I’d love to hear what you think.

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Check Out My Free eBook On Strategic Planning

This eBook provides guidance on how to create a strategic plan for your community.  If your community is impacted by the shale energy industry, I believe it is a must read.  If not, the process and model described in the eBook can still be applied to help your community create an effective strategic development plan.  Click the above link or copy and paste this link into your browser –




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