Bruce Hoch is a leading consultant in strategic economic development, corporate site selection, real estate and brown field re-development. He is also an architect, urban planner, author and lecturer. Bruce is Managing Director of DCG Corplan Consulting [hot link to www.dcgcorplan.com], a national consulting firm, with offices in NJ (headquarters) and Pleasanton, CA, DCG Corplan Consulting has provided over 2,800 consulting assignments to private sector, public sector, and not-for-profit organizations.
Bruce is also a founding member & trustee of the Liberty Yacht Club (Jersey City, NJ). I own an O’Day 222, so I can relate to Bruce’s passion for sailing, although I am confident his experience is much more exciting than mine ever was.
I asked Bruce for his thoughts on how economic development professionals can do a better job of providing customer service. I think his counsel is well worth paying attention to. Is your EDO making the mistakes Bruce highlights?
Advice for Economic Developers – A Site Selector’s Personal Observation
Working with my public agency counterparts over many years of private practice has been both a privilege and a challenge. The opportunity for me to participate in the growth of new business and the direct/indirect benefits that results from my activity has been a satisfying reward. More often than not, a cordial and mutually beneficial relationship with the ED community has allowed me to be better at my job and has facilitated our clients’ location needs.
One drawback I have noticed over the years, however, involves the design of marketing materials. Too often, I will receive physical or email communications indicating the name of the community without any reference to its location. The tone of the piece is usually written as if we are already best friends and I should automatically know what state XYZ County or City is located. When writing emails or sending links to site selectors, please assume that the reader has no idea who you are, what state or region of the country you’re located in, or why a site or area is being promoted.
There are over 3,100 counties in the U.S., and nearly all of them are seeking new investments from private industry. Some location analysts feel that the attraction of a company from one location to another represents a zero-sum game, in that job gain in one community results a job loss from another. I do not subscribe to this philosophy. To me, more fertile markets means expansion and ultimate job increase over the status quo of remaining in unprofitable locations.
In order to distinguish your location from among your competitors, it would be important to show site selectors why a company could perform better in your area than elsewhere. If I were an economic developer, I would concentrate on a small number of target industries that are proven to be supportable in your location, and then develop marketing materials dedicated to demonstrating bottom-line advantages to company executives. That way, you have produced more effective marketing pieces that will speak to target audiences rather than be more general in nature and may cause the reader distress in not comprehending your message.