By Sandy Dubay
Posted on July 8, 2020
Filed under: Business Development, Economic Development

The data you need to track in a COVID world

When it comes to budget justifications, sometimes we assume that our stakeholders and elected officials know how much time, energy, and resources it takes to do a particular project. 

For example, we assume they understand: 

  • The amount of handholding you do with business owners
  • The amount of time it takes to create and review a new grant program or loan program 
  • What it takes to promote programs to local businesses 
  • The work involved when it comes to reviewing applications and releasing funds

Remember – stakeholders do not know everything you are doing on a day-to-day basis. They only know what you report.

And now, it’s more important than ever to report out all the different ways your organization has stepped up to support local businesses. 

As Economic Developers on the front line, how have you pivoted in order to support all of these needs in your community?

You need to be tracking that information and reporting it out. Don’t rely on your memory and trust that you will remember it 6-8 months from now. 

When it’s time for the quarterly or annual review of the annual budget, you will be grateful to have this data at hand. Normally we wouldn’t be looking at quarterly or semi-annual reviews, but it’s a new time. Whether you are creating calendar-year or fiscal year annual reports, you need to have a COVID-rich section there. 

As you prepare to track your data for the upcoming fiscal year, figure out what your new metrics are. Your metrics may need to be more focused on business retention and tracking and existing business support overall.

Important data to track includes how many businesses you have:

  • Had phone conversations/emailed with
  • Connected with a resource
  • Helped retool because they were able to shift their operations
  • Created an online workshop series for
  • Provided grant funding 

As well as tracking: 

  • The new partnerships you created
  • What you were able to do with your Chamber of Commerce or Tourism partner
  • What you did with workforce development partners
  • How you were able to shift and pivot with local colleges
  • How you were able to support the local school system
  • How many volunteers you engaged
  • How many webinars did you participate in

Remember: this is not a time to be humble. This is a time to be very upfront and communicate the value of economic development. The power of economic development is that one person or organization is supporting many, many businesses. 

Whether you are in Main Street, city, state, or regional economic development, you are one individual or organization helping many others.

Now is the time to communicate the message of you truly being front line support to the business community.

Leave a comment down below to share your thoughts on being the front lines as economic developers.

‘Til next time,
Sandy

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