Economic Vitality often proves to be the most challenging of the Four Points for communities to implement, but its importance can not be overlooked. After all, job and business creation, retention and expansion is the hallmark of the health of your entrepreneurial ecosystem. So, how is your organization doing at promoting the business opportunities in the district?
Let’s start by thinking like a business owner who is looking for a new location or an opportunity to expand. What information would they be looking for? Here are a few data points that all Main Street organizations should have on their website:
- Incentives – Does your district include an enterprise zone, tourism zone or hub zone? What incentives come with those programs? Be sure to list opportunities for real estate tax abatement, waived fees, rebated meals taxes or facade improvement grants.
- Demographics – What is the make up of your community? If you have your ESRI data and your Tapestry Market segmentation, be sure to have those items front and center so interested parties can see if your community and district is a good fit for their business.
- Major Employers – Who has already made an investment in your community? This is an indication of the overall economic health of the area, as well as potential markets/customers for new businesses.
- Locality Priorities – Are you building your downtown economy around outdoor recreation and tourism? Do you have a shortage of restaurants where workers can have a delicious lunch in under half an hour and for less then $10? Include information on recent community needs surveys or adopted economic development strategies that will help prospects to determine if yours is the right market for their business.
- Workforce Development – Does your local community college have an award-winning respiratory therapy program? Or does a nearby university focus on technology and cybersecurity? This lets prospects know that there is an educated workforce at their fingertips.
BONUS: Remember that both quantitative and qualitative data have impacts. Be sure to include quotes from local business owners highlighting the benefits of the local incentives, the ease of working with the Main Street organization and the locality or the quality of life afforded to their employees by locating in your community. Do not underestimate the power of story telling!