With the majority of site selection now being done online, it’s clear that EcDevs need to maintain a proper digital presence. Traditionally, websites have been the foundation for online investment attraction (IA).

Most communities reduce their online IA presence to an economic development (ED) section on their municipal website and the content in this section always varies. Overall, very few communities have a dedicated IA or ED website. Why is that?

After interviewing EcDevs around the country, I quickly learned that most communities want a website dedicated to ED or IA but don’t have the budget.

So what can be done? If you can’t afford a web design agency then you can build your own website. Modern technology is making it quick & simple.

Here are the 3 DIY steps to building a beautiful economic development website for under $250.


1. Use An Online Platform to Build a Website

The cost of DIY websites are going down and platforms like Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix make it extremely easy to build them.

In just 1 hour using Wix, I made this basic EcDev website for Gotham City, the home of DC Comic’s Batman. (Yeah. I’m a nerd.)

Gotham City Economic Development

Their templates keep the site modern & fresh. And if you upgrade, you can use your own domain name and remove the ads for approximately $200/year.

2. Build Key Content for your Website

Once you have you have created your account on a platform, look to add some basic content to your website. At the very least, focus on the content mentioned in Development Counsellors International’s (DCI) 10 Best Practices for an Economic Development Website blog post:

Highlight Key Industries: Clearly identify the sector’s strategic advantages and list or provide success stories for the top employers in the region to demonstrate a robust industry network.

Comprehensive Contact Information: When location advisors and corporate executives are ready to make that call, a decision maker wants to be able to get on the phone with the right contact.

Keep Demographic Data Up-to-Date: Site selectors, executives and other decision makers want to know if your community has the workforce needed to support their business.

From my interviews, I learned that most EcDevs struggle with keeping data up-to-date on their website, which brings me to Step 3.

3. Power Your Website With Townfolio

If you visit the Gotham City Economic Development demo website, and click “Data Centre”, you would have noticed the data for Gotham City was visualized in an easy to read format. This is powered by Townfolio.

Townfolio

Townfolio is a community profile system that aggregates and automates community data, while following International standards.

Data updates are taken care of, saving EcDevs the time, money and pain of sourcing and updating their own data.

Townfolio also offers a chart embed feature to make your website data interactive and intriguing.

Basic chart embeds are now free and simple as adding a line of code.

Tip: Follow the rule of thumb I used for Gotham City’s Economic Development website and make everything “1–2 clicks” away.


And there you have it! You now have a beautiful website with basic content, and interactive data to help jump start your online marketing efforts!

Disclaimer

By no means do I think this is a final solution, I wrote this article to help EcDevs with little to no budget, and are limited to what they can do. I thinkthis is an excellent option to consider if you can’t afford to hire a professional agency.

If you have any questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly at davie@townfolio.co


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