A chance to try out an online economic development tool for free was simply too tempting for Bashaw town council.
At their Sept. 5 meeting, council unanimously approved signing on with Calgary-based Local Intel and use its online business and investment assistant program at no cost for 12 months. Steve Kirby, Local Intel vice-president of sales, conducted the presentation remotely and answered questions through a voice link during the meeting.
He explained this specific program is designed with limited budgets in mind as a way to use an existing website while providing businesses and potential investors with the information needed about the community and help drive forward with more development.
“We work with communities of all sizes, ranging from towns of 450 to cities like Vancouver and Indianapolis,” Kirby said.
“We really want all communities to have great, robust web assets to help drive job growth and investment in those communities.”
He added there is a huge disparity between the kind of web assets on the market that businesses and investors can leverage to really understand what is going on in a particular community.
The business and investment assistant tool micro-site is embedded into the client’s website and features interactive dashboards, dynamic maps, how-to guides and resource connections that showcase the community in various ways.
Among the data shown includes the number of households, age and demographics of the population, average incomes, industrial density and information on local businesses and organizations.
“You can present as much data points as you want, but the reality is that majority of people researching locations are not experts,” Kirby stated.
“So we provide a bit of education and advice on how to understand the business climate, then we present the data so users are armed with a bit more context.”
After finding out the first year is provided for free plus a marketing package, while annual renewal costs at $1,900, council was sold enough to buy in at least for a year.
“Being as though it is risk free, there isn’t really a downside,” Coun. Rob McDonald noted, “but I think a much better idea is to invite some of our new local business owners and pick their brains on what hurdles and challenges they faced.”