What to Look for Before Accepting a Position in Economic Development.

You've made it through the interviews - you need a job and you love the people and the community but... can this team win?


Bottom line - you'll want to work with a team that wins. Don't get stuck on a losing team - that losing record will follow you around.


Before you accept a job to run or work on an economic development team - you'll want to find out if this boat will float. So, let's see how tight this ship really is.


Look for a system...

  • Does the EDO have accurate, up to date profiles of all local companies - existing industry, developers, site selectors, education partners, allies, investors, and anyone you do business with will need to be in a database. Ask to see the system.

  • Contact info. All contacts should have profiles. All activities, interests, meeting history, etc. should be captured and shared. You want to have an activity and notes timeline for your contacts.

  • Projects - capture key data about projects won, lost and on hold. Track all important data. This will be invaluable for reporting. If the EDO cannot produce this, move on. This is a sign of weakness.

  • Support Activities and BRE - any and all support activities should track the time spent, results and other data that may be helpful as you build a relationship with local allies, businesses and people. Ask about how their BRE program works, ask to see reports, data and other key metrics.

Success in economic development requires the use of modern tools including CRM and Marketing tools. Would you work as a carpenter with stone tools? Sure you can build houses with stone tools but don't expect them to last. You'd be crazy to go to work for an economic development agency without modern tools in place.


If you see a losing proposition, it may be best to walk away from the job and find an EDO where you can grow. OR... take the job with the condition that you will get to spend the right amount of money in order to put these systems in place. If you are in a new organization or are in a Cold-Start EDO, know this: you are building the economic development practice from scratch. Outlook and Excel won't cut it. Secure board - investor - stakeholder funding as part of your employment agreement. If you can't secure this commitment - keep looking. If you want to know how much to ask for (call me and I'll give you the numbers).


If you cannot get this in writing - find another opportunity. Do not risk your career on taking a job if the board or stakeholders do not see the value in CRM - Marketing. The CRM system will give you the tools to help you win and report on your progress and successes. These reports are trophies you are playing for. Make sure winning and results come with rewards.


If your board consists of private business owners - ask them about their software systems. Find a board member that understands the value of selling and CRM - let them become your advocate.

  • what software do you use to run your business?

  • is your software optimized for your industry?

  • could you effectively run your business without this software?

  • do you use a CRM system?

  • what tools do you use for marketing your business?

  • At a minimum - they keep score with the accounting system and if the company is not using CRM, they are probably not a strong company either.

Article - creating value through CRM


CRM allows us to set up the ongoing value proposition as the thread that connects every piece of information we collect for a given client. Data for data's sake just doesn't work. Everything that goes into a client's data file should have context. We're trying to assemble a giant puzzle for each of our clients. So all of the people mapping, meeting notes, relevant articles, etc. should be "building blocks" for that client's respective value proposition.


Effective use of CRM software creates a coherent and cohesive body of information that drives the value proposition for a given client. (By Buff Parham/Parham & Associates LLC)



The minimum tools you should have in economic development:

  • Existence of a Strategic Plan - ask to see this.The website must be SEO optimized - run searches to see if the site pulls under relevant search terms. If this is a weakness, inbound lead flow will suffer.

  • Ask to see reports. If the organization does not have the ability to produce high quality reports, the organization is weak.

  • Marketing tools - mass email capabilities ( MailChimp, Constant Contact, HubSpot). Ask to see marketing emails sent.

  • Ability to create landing pages on the website.

  • Evidence of account-based selling - marketing. Most EDO's don't have a clue what this means or how to do it - but if you find those that do, this is a very good sign.

  • GIS Planning or LOIS database. www.gisplanning.com

  • Ask about Gazelle.ai if this is in place +10!

  • Modern website - ask to see website traffic and google analytics.

  • Ask about their CRM - there are several industry-specific systems including ours. Executive Pulse, Salesforce, MicrosoftDynamics

  • HubSpot for Economic Development (shameless plug - this is us)

If you are starting a New EDO or if you are in a Cold Start Mode - we can help you can get on the fast track and the right track.


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Chattanooga, TN, USA

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