Promoting conversations in local economic development with Dallas, OR
Local economic development is a critical aspect to the growth and sustainability of any city. On the west side of Oregon lies Dallas, home to over 16,000 people in a city of about 5 square miles. It’s a fast-growing city that has retained its small-town feel, which folks are looking for as they move.
Tyler Ferrari, the Economic Development Specialist for the city, shares how their local economic development strategy is all about creating a thriving business community.
"We strive to help businesses be successful because cities cannot be successful without the businesses' success." Tyler Ferrari, Economic Development Specialist from City of Dallas, OR
In this blog post, we'll delve into Dallas, OR's journey in developing a strategic approach to support businesses within their city.
Evolving their strategic approach to local economic development
A few years ago, Dallas, OR was in the early stages of developing a strategic approach to their local economic development.. Business retention and expansion plans were more ad-hoc—and since the city doesn’t have a business license program, they didn’t have an accurate database for business outreach.
This caused a problem, as the team prioritizes these business visits to make sure that their local business community knows what resources exist. They also didn't have an accurate place to store notes from their business visits.
When making those visits, Tyler tries to keep the conversation open-ended. He’ll usually start by asking if what they’re doing is new or what their experience is and open the conversation to discussing any problems they may be experiencing and what their goals are for the next few years. He’s found most business owners to be receptive to this approach—and it’s made collecting that important information easier.
After recognizing that many of their local businesses wouldn’t have known about these resources without the initial contact from the city, the team turned their focus to creating an updated business inventory. This led them to partner with Bludot, an economic development software platform. With Bludot, Dallas, OR has a centralized platform to store critical information about businesses, making it easier to track progress, provide support, and nurture relationships.
“It's hard to make that in-person contact because we are just so busy and we didn’t have a place to store that information either. So, we’re excited we have an easy place to collect and store that information centrally.” Tyler Ferrari, Economic Development Specialist from City of Dallas, OR
Using the right tools for the job
The city’s adoption of Bludot has had a transformative effect on their economic development efforts. They use Bludot's CRM platform to maintain an inventory of all businesses, track resource use and streamline communication.
One of the most useful features they're utilizing is the map functionality, which enables them to designate areas they want to target. This proactive approach is particularly beneficial, especially in scenarios where businesses require advance notice, such as road closures. By using the map feature, the team is able to target specific areas of their community for geographic updates and opportunities.
Additionally, Dallas is able to digitize their community engagement and feedback. A future project involves repurposing an old bank building into a community-centric space and the team is eager to involve the community in the decision-making process. Bludot has the ability to send and analyze surveys from their community members, which teams can take advantage of to collect feedback and ideas.
"We’re really looking forward to feedback from the community on our idea and taking this really old bank building and turning it into something that can be really community-centric." Tyler Ferrari, Economic Development Specialist from City of Dallas, OR
They also use Bludot’s project management capabilities to track grant applications and processes. Dallas, OR has a Facade Improvement Grant that they are using ARPA funding for. Bludot helps them keep track of their notes, assign tasks for different team members, and have a central location for all the information as a quick, easy, consistency reference.
Building conversations with businesses is a pillar of local economic development
Dallas, OR’s commitment to the success of its businesses is a strategic approach that is empowering the community's economic leaders. Tyler emphasizes how important the one-on-one connections to business owners are to know the needs of your businesses.
No one wants to be blindsided by a staple of the community closing. By staying up to date with your community’s needs, becoming a proactive partner and using the right tools to track all of the data, you can develop and execute your local economic development strategy.
If you’re ready to invest in software that enables you to help your businesses thrive, schedule a call with Bludot today.