County's consulting service uses GIS to help local companies expand
The Pueblo County, Colo.,Department offers consulting services for local businesses to help them find optimal locations, grow and set down roots in the community. Known as “economic gardening,” the service focuses on cultivating local enterprises rather than landing large companies looking for a cheap place to do business. “Businesses that are already in town are not fully focused on the bottom line,” says Christopher Markuson, GIS manager for Pueblo County. “They're looking to improve business, but they're also looking to do what's right by their employees.”
Markuson and his team meet with business owners to determine their concerns, interests and current efforts. Then, the GIS team analyzes and maps demographic and other data to share with the clients.
The GIS department uses software from Redlands, Calif.-based ESRI that supports a variety of analysis and mapping needs, and provides demographic, business and shopping center data as well as the ability to incorporate in-house data.
The GIS team recently helped a local Web-based business that wanted to improve market penetration nationwide. They helped develop strategies to increase commerce in 14 of the company's top markets by advertising across media, including television, radio, subway platform ads and direct mail. They also identified the top ZIP codes for people who search for the company's product online, and the team used that information to create Google AdWords and optimize the company's Web site for search engines. The campaign is bringing in new revenue, and within one month of the campaign, the business created four new jobs.
Pueblo Community Health Center also met with Markuson and his team to discuss an upcoming capital campaign. The team provided a targeted mailing list that resulted in a 63 percent increase in new donors. The center reached its five-year fund-raising goal of $15,000 in one year. “It's because they're using the right message, and there's intelligence behind who they're asking for donations,” Markuson says. “It wasn't who you'd think it would be — all the local philanthropists. Instead, it was the people that knew somebody who had gone to the community health center for some reason.”
“To date, we've tracked 58 new jobs emerging from the businesses we've helped grow, bringing in over $2.8 million of new revenue into the county,” Markuson says. “I'm especially thrilled that most of these new jobs pay livable wages — $45,000 each on average — offer benefits, and have little potential to move out of our community in pursuit of a lower-cost alternative.”
Project: Economic development consulting
Jurisdiction: Pueblo County, Colo.
Agency: GIS Department
Vendor: Redlands, Calif.-based ESRI