This week the Iowa Lakes Development Corporation (http://lakescorridor.com/ilcdc) published their new site which serves as a template for how regional economic development groups can harness the power of visually stunning websites and social media.
As recently as three or four years ago, many regional economic development groups simply used their website as an online brochure. Many economic development corporations viewed the purpose of their website as a tool to communicate with board members and local officials The Iowa Lakes Regional Development site demonstrates how economic development sites have turned from an inward focus to an outward focus. According to The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, “72% of online adults use social networking sites”. It is no secret that people rely on the information highway to digest information, look for jobs, and research locations. Iowa Lakes understands the online user as evidence by their site.
The Iowa Lakes Regional Development site also harnesses the power of stories. While data may drive business decisions, it is human interest that attracts people to an area. Spend five minutes on the Iowa Lakes site and quickly one gets a sense of the people, industry and recreation of the area. The region comes alive through the lives of real people living in the Iowa Lakes Region.
To compliment the website, Iowa Lakes also has a strong presence in the social media universe. Visit their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/iowalakescorridor) and one will find a determined approach to keeping members informed and attracting outside employers and employees. It is evident that what Iowa Lakes has launched is not just a website but a strategy to attract attention and bring in people and businesses. Lastly, what differentiates Iowa Lakes from many regional economic development groups is that they are not talking about marketing their area–they are doing it! Congratulations!