The power of economic development corporations

A sample of the virtual building portfolios offered by the Rock County Wisconsin Development Alliance.

For James Otterstein, the role of an economic development corporation can best be summed up in one word: partner.

Economic development corporations work as partners with developers, helping them navigate local regulations, understand an area’s growth patterns and develop the best possible plan for success.

These corporations work, too, with local governments, helping them actively promote the benefits of their regions, helping them tell the story of why businesses should set up shop on their soil.

Economic development corporations, then, are key players in bringing new businesses to an area. And in the Midwest, these organizations are particularly active today in helping entire regions of the country work through the still sluggish economy.

“There is so much that an organization such as ours does to help foster business growth,” said Otterstein, economic development manager for the Rock County Wisconsin Development Alliance, a business development organization based in Janesville, Wis.

Midwest Real Estate News is featuring economic development corporations in its August issue. The story looks at the work that these organizations are turing in across the Midwest.

No matter what projects these organizations are tackling, though, they all have the same goal: to help bring new business to their regions. They do this this by helping businesses understand an area’s economics and growth statistics. They help new businesses understand where populations are rising and, just as importantly, where their potential clients might be locating.

Groups like Otterstein’s also serve as liaisons to local governments, helping potential new businesses navigate the permitting process, meet local regulations and identify the key government officials with whom they’ll need to develop long-lasting relationships.

The Rock County Wisconsin Development Alliance even offers a portfolio of virtual buildings that are designed to fit perfectly with the shovel-ready sites that the alliance offers to new businesses.

“Projects that use the services of economic development corporations are able to navigate the process much more efficiently,” Otterstein said. “They can work with a dedicated single point of contact that can help them navigate all those channels, traverse the different levels of government. Organizations like ours are invaluable.”

In other words, these groups are as important today — when the economy continues to struggle — than they ever have been.

– Dan Rafter

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