Over the past few months I began reviewing trends in economic development in preparation for the launch of the new website. One thing I know I noticed was that many Economic Development Agencies, Chambers of Commerce and Tourism Bureaus were incorporating blogs to actively discuss issues and activity. Years ago, this would have been virtually unthinkable, especially for EDAs. Economic developers were not supposed to talk about what they did. Too many secrets, deals, strategies, competition.
This thinking persisted even into the age of social media. Many older, pardon me, more seasoned, economic developers eschewed things like Facebook and Twitter because they felt no need to share what they did with the outside world. Some felt more comfortable with LinkedIn but very few fully understood its potential either. I guess that's the reason for the cacophony of endorsements I still receive on a regular basis!
However, the reality is that all of these mediums, if used properly, are great tools for helping get out the message of your community. The MCEDC has had a Facebook page since 2009, and I think it has been very useful for us. We use it to help explain the unemployment rate most months and to announce news from local companies. I realized one day about a year ago that the world was truly changing when I got a call from Anthony Campbell at the Advertiser Gleam wanting some more specifics about something he had seen me write about on Facebook in order to do a story. Not long after that, the AG came out with a digital edition, another tectonic shift.
So why a blog? I can tell you one thing, it's not because we need more things to do. We've cut back from a four person to a three person staff in the past year and are as busy as ever. We discussed it as a staff and all felt like it was a good idea for a couple reasons. One, we have a very interesting role in Marshall County. I have people ask me all the time about what we are working on or how are things going in the county. Every time do a speaking engagement, I am asked those questions. A blog helps us get out the message that Marshall County is a dynamic, growing community with a healthy business climate.
Secondly, it's a great way to clarify and quantify what exactly economic developers do. Every time I sit down with an incoming board member, I have a litany of issues and ideas to explain and I've always thought that it would be great to quantify that to the public thru the web. With our new website format, we have a great platform to do this.
Don't look for us to publish industry standard white papers here, this blog is meant to be a fun, descriptive, almost play by play of what we are involved in and the work we are doing.