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Greyhill advises clients on corporate site selection, economic development, and commerical real estate. Our blog covers those topics plus economics, trade policy, manufacturing policy, and other related subjects.

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Tuesday
Oct182011

Cool economic development mapping tool 

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation projects page has a great interactive mapping tool. The map allows you to filter MEDC projects by geographic location, industry, and type of incentive provided.  The filtering tools provide an appropriate balance of detail without causing the user too much hassle. The map provides a site selection consultant with a quick overview of activities in the state, and the ability to drill down to applicable projects. If I am researching alternative energy projects, the mapping tool provides project location, detail on job creation and private investment, and public support provided. I get an idea of the projects MEDC is funding, areas of geographic activity, and some insight into the level of public sector support. It’s a good example of a user friendly tool, which reduces the time required for a reader to get a quick overview. Compare this to a word document listing projects, at 10-20 pages long.

The map works because it shortens the amount of time between me and the info. It’s also an answer to a larger question, how best to provide relevant information to site selection consultants and corporate real estate professionals? Marketing to us is tough when we spend so much time using the information, and each person is working on different projects with different needs. A couple of tips come to mind;

  • Get to the point. Whether you are using text, data, or a visual tool, the quicker it leads me to the point, the better. For both of us, my ability to remember data decreases as the volume of data increases.
  • Interesting data, relevant to us. Small cities, all bunched around the hub of a large metro, don’t need to spend as much time on workforce and demographic issues.  If I’m driving past lots of empty land to get to your city, then make me feel comfortable about the local workforce.
  • Data we can’t get on our own. We have access to most demographic, industry, and workforce data, so a quick summary will do. Information on the local development process is more difficult to come by, such as timeline to occupancy, and rarely available with any specificity.
  • Anything that mitigates a perceived weakness. Does your 53% of your rural town’s population have a college degree? Reasonable electric costs in an otherwise high cost state?

The MEDC map succinctly provided information I couldn’t get elsewhere, and was easy to use. 

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