What is a website? (Silly question.) What is the purpose of a website? (Most think it's just a necessity these days.) And what is the value of a website? (Many are unsure of the untapped value that websites truly have.) For the economic development industry, a website is a powerful tool that tells a story, that entices, and that leverages a community's assets. More importantly, a website can be a main driver in the location evaluation process, and eventually, a site selector's decision to choose a certain location over another. And no economic development organization wants their community to be overlooked due to a lack of digital existence.
The main problem, however, is that economic developers are slow to adopt digital - only 1/3 believe they're effectively leveraging digital to impact their overall economy. What's more? The average website only converts 1% of its traffic into leads.
The digital revolution that is upon us is helping spawn the shift toward an acceptance of "the digital way," and some EDOs realize that the first step toward better community perception is a website that showcases assets and highlights all the "good stuff" (sites, buildings, properties, workforce, local amenities, and more) in their community. What they don't know is that a website is more than just a page on the Internet, and does more than just exist. It provides information. It generates awareness. It encourages action. It elicits inquiry. It drives capital investment. And ultimately, it helps create jobs that change people's lives.
To compete effectively in today’s landscape, economic development organizations have to embrace change, new resources and tools, and an expanding vernacular surrounding budding technologies that seemingly pop up too often for what is comfortable in the profession. And speaking of comfortable, maybe that’s where the profession has gone. Maybe we’ve grown too accustomed to practices and procedures that have been “industry norm” for decades - like static, unengaging websites - and now many are noticing that economic development efforts are only somewhat effective or not effective at all.
A website can help your community compete among the vigorous competition that exists within the economic development industry of today. Cities like Cincinnati (Ohio) and Amarillo (Texas), and organizations like Invest Buffalo Niagara (New York) have all realized the tremendous impact websites have on their larger economies. They've embraced change, they've accepted "the digital way," and they're making strides toward being the best in the industry.
Next-level ED website example - choosecincy.com