Day 6: What is my Product?

What is my product?  At SSG we always encourage our clients to think of their community or region as a product.  That means you must identify the benefits and features.  Early on in the job it is imperative that you drive around the community and become familiar with your available buildings, and sites.  When I was at the State we would provide simulated prospect tours for our communities.  In one community we made the visit pretending to be a prospect.  I had been to this community several times so I was pretty familiar with the available sites.  The ED professional had been in the community for a couple of years.  Our pretend project needed ten acres.  We started the visit and left the office to go to the site.  The ED professional turned what I was pretty sure the wrong way to the site.  He is talking away and we get to the edge of the town and he stops and looks around.  He had the most puzzled look on his face.  I said, ” Don, I think you went the wrong way.”   He had this total look of horror, but we had a good laugh since fortunately it was a simulated visit but it taught me how important it is to know the community.

A good economic developer should know the following:

Be knowledgeable about all property or at least know the right person to call within minutes

Broad utility facts such as water and sewer capacity and phone service

Incentives including tax benefits

Community strengths and weaknesses

Community Leaders including political leaders

Community college and university leaders if you have a college or university in town

Know all managers and or owners of key employers

Transportation advantages

Know you community better than anyone else in town!  Next:  How do I communicate?

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