What’s in the office? Do you have the equipment you need? Do you have the resources you need? When I started in 1985 the office equipment I use now didn’t even exist! Such as cell phones and PC’s. Every month we mailed a newsletter. I had taken the job from an older gentleman and his newsletters were just a two sided type written letter that had been carbon copied! If you are reading this and don’t know what a carbon copy is just ask someone over 50. I came into the office and they had just rented a copy machine! I cut and literally pasted (glued) pictures and used lots of motivational quotes in the newsletter. I received all sorts of complements about the newsletter. Of course I made all sorts of trademark violations but no one would discover me in a small rural town in Iowa.
With the technology today we are expected to be constantly connected. Here’s what I would want in my office: A smart phone; laptop, printer, and tablet. I prefer to be mobile at all times. A good economic development pro is not sitting in their office very often. You should be meeting with people every day. I won’t offer an opinion on whether to purchase an Apple, Microsoft or Google products. They are all good and really come down to personal preferences.
At my first job in Hampton, Iowa cell phones didn’t exist and faxes were just beginning to be standard equipment. We also didn’t have computers! Wow, I am getting old! Every month I would write and create a newsletter in our office. When I took over the job from a gentleman that did not embrace technology, he was writing the newsletter using a carbon copy machine. You older readers will remember carbon copies. But between when he left and I came on board the Board rented a copier machine! These were new fangled gadgets at the time. So I created the newsletter on the copier machine. Christy, my wonderful co-worker, would help me cut images out of magazines and books and we would literally paste them onto a page and then copy the page. Now you know where the term, “cut and paste” comes from! We received the nicest compliments from our members for our inspiring newsletters! It is important to take advantage of the latest equipment.
Another issue that needs to be addressed in some economic development organizations is the quality of the office space. When I was at the State I brought a prospect to the economic development offices in a small community. The County was providing free office space to the ED organization. This space had literally been a janitors closet under some stairs in the courthouse!. The company was not impressed and as we left he told me he most likely would not include this community on his final list because of the obvious lack of support of the ED organization. An economic development organization is the front door of the community. I have seen several economic development offices that are either in a bad location in the community or the office is just in a horrible place and the quality of the space is poor. Your economic development organization needs to be in a prime location and the office must be of high quality. The office space must have a nice conference room. In that conference room should be equipment that can show a presentation. You also should have aerial photos of the community, and sites hanging on the walls. Ideally the maps should be covered with a glass that you can use a marker so you can show a business the area you may be selling. Tomorrow: What software should I use?