Content Every EDO Website's 'Doing Business Here' Section Should HaveWednesday, April 26, 2017
Creating Your Own Content
Knowing what content to include on your website can be just as important as how the site looks during the website building process. Many website design companies offer to develop and organize the content for your site as an additional service, but this can come at a large price.
Doing it yourself can save you a lot of money, but it’s not as simple as throwing a few words on the page and leaving it up to the customer to figure out how to navigate your website. You want to carefully structure your website’s content so that it is intuitive, easy to quickly understand, and acts as a spokesperson for your economic development organization and region.
To help guide you through the process, we have created a breakdown of how to organize the content on your site and descriptions of what to include in each section.
Before you sit down and start writing, you want to map a basic outline of how your website’s information should be structured. As author and content marketing expert, Ann Hadley, once wrote, “the more the think, the easier the ink.”
As you may know, creating a content sitemap will help you list your EDO’s main focus areas as top level menus followed by more detailed navigation.
Based on the sitemap we created earlier, we know that most economic development organization’s site are arranged into four main categories:
- Doing Business Here
- Key Industries
- Life/Lifestyle or Living Here
- About Us/Resources
Everything else included on your economic development’s website will likely branch off one of these categories.
In this blog, we will explore what pages and subpages make up the Doing Business Here section. As you go through each section, you will find a hyperlink and an image, showing one of our favorite websites that incorporates the best practice or content that we are discussing.
Let’s get started!
Arguably the most important part of your EDO’s website is your “Business” or “Doing Business Here” section. This is the content that will persuade potential companies to establish their operations in your economic region. Your business section will undoubtedly be one of your first and main menu tabs displayed on your site – which will lead to more customized information once a visitor clicks on it.
In this section, you are communicating to companies why your state, city, region, county, etc. is the perfect place to do business. Come up with a list of things that you believe makes your location great to work in.
As seen below, Greater Oklahoma City has a great example of this type of webpage and the content it could contain.
To help you isolate what makes your area so lucrative, ask yourself,
“What makes companies want to move to here?”
“Why are companies currently here?”
Asking yourself those two questions should give you a lot of information to work with. You’ve probably even already come up with a few ideas on what makes your area special.
To build off what you have brainstormed, consider the following topics within the business section of your EDO’s website navigation.
A good way to influence companies to move to your area is to show them what their peers are doing. Highlight major companies or employers already doing business there. A large number of local organizations shows that there are a lot of benefits to operating in your region.
Greater OKC, as seen below, has an interactive map page which lists the top employers, where they are located, and the number of people employed.
It can also attract new workers and signify that there is a healthy workforce in the region, which leads us to…
Companies want to know that there is a good supply of workers to fill roles. Especially if the industry they are in requires a specific trade, skill, or background. It is important for businesses to know they will be able to recruit quality candidates for the positions they need. Greater MSP’s website has a great example of this page, including an engaging design and key statistics.
Give statistics that indicate your labor force is growing or is reliably consistent. What are your region’s employment and unemployment rates? How much of the population holds a high school diploma or higher? If your area sees a large amount of foreign workers or other uniquely skilled groups flock to your area, make note of it. You can also show how many students stay in the area to work once graduating.
What is going to help the company grow? Opportunities for professional growth can be a great extra perk. Wayne County, OH, has a good example of resource pages and professional growth opportunities in the region.
Companies don’t want to become stagnant. If employees are able to develop their skills it can help grow the business. Many companies also rely on the local educational institutions for the ongoing training of their workforce.
What is available in your area for professional development? This could be local universities or trade schools, leadership programs or professional associations.
Incentives like tax breaks, loan programs, funding initiatives and grants are all factors that can influence where a company does business. Here are a few questions that can help fill your incentives/taxes web page:
Are there tax incentives, credits, exemptions?
What key industries are they for?
What’s the corporate income tax?
Is there sales tax?
What are the eligibility guidelines?
Greater Oklahoma City’s website answers all of these questions, and in addition, incorporates the use of video.
To highlight what your region has to offer, make sure website visitors are able to easily find and click on this tab. Tax Incentives can arguably be a main menu tab on your website’s homepage as well. And some EDO’s do in fact keep this separate from the business section.
Use your best judgment for this one and make it a main tab if your incentives are too good to risk not acknowledging them outright. As long as it doesn’t disrupt the flow or theme of your homepage.
For now, we will keep it in the business section. But within your organization, sit down and decide whether you think that the incentives offered by your region are lucrative enough to be a primary selling point on your site.
Every EDO and geographic region are different. Highlight what makes yours unique so visitors can immediately see it and learn more. Or, even better, show why they should want to learn more.
A great example is from the Minneapolis Saint Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership. Greater MSP lists rankings from independent reports on how their state matches up with the rest of the country. EX: “Forbes Ranks Minnesota #9 Best State for Business”
If you were a business considering the area, would that not be enough to make you want to learn why?
Your demographics section will be fairly straightforward. Include facts about population size, average age, number of residents with high schools degrees or higher, average income, family size, etc. McMinnville’s website is a great look at a quick, highly detailed demographics page.
Don’t be afraid to give this section some personality by including a statistic that may be a little unusual, such as “____% of employees report having an above average work/life balance.” Keep your statistics relevant to your mission, though.
Manufacturing companies or businesses that use a lot of energy or water to operate will be interested in learning more about the cost of utilities. Does your region offer lower average costs, energy incentives, clean energy/green programs, affordable electricity or water? Also, include where your energy and water comes from. Will companies have multiple options to choose from?
Exemptions for certain industries such as agriculture or industrial production can be persuasive incentives as well. Communication services can also be considered such as internet, phone, and cable providers. Depending on the nature of the business, one or all of these things may be important to prospects.
Check out how Greater MSP has shown utilities on their website!
A good infrastructure means easily accessible highways, airports, railways and other means of transportation. Show how well connected your region is. Access to clients, partners, and suppliers can be critical for companies to conduct business. Depending on a business’ needs, links to commercial hubs or hotspots regionally, nationally, or globally can help determine whether you will be the right place them to settle. Provide details on your major highways, railways, water ports, airports, and public transportation. Anything that shows you are in a prime and centralized location.
Hawkins County IDB shows the transportation and regional infrastructure on their website well. The content contained on their site, combined with maps and travel times, is extremely helpful to the visitors on their website.
Real Estate/Property/Site Selector
What real estate options are available to expanding or relocating businesses? Provide details on a variety of different properties that could accommodate retail, industrial or commercial businesses.
A prime example would be Valparaiso Economic Development Corporation’s website, seen above. On their Featured Properties page, they highlight their various office parks, industrial and commercial real estate locations, and business centers. Or you can take a page from Greater MSP’s site which has a site selector, an interactive map that shows all of the available properties.
What do you have available to entrepreneurs or small business owners? What services, resources or real estate could help them be successful? Similarly, list any steps or licenses that need to be taken or obtained before starting a business.
Greater OKC has a great example of this type of page.
To give you some more ideas on how to organize the content your economic development organization’s website, take a look at Charles County and Greater MSP’s websites. Both sites, designed by Accrisoft, are considered flagship sites for EDOs.
Thank you for taking the time to read through this blog! We hope you found it helpful. If you'd like, you can download the entire ebook, How to Write Content for your Economic Development Organization now!