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Virtual Site Tours are Changing Economic Development—Are You Ready?

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ith technology rapidly advancing year over year, economic development teams need to stay nimble to meet the time-sensitive needs of their corporate and community clients. Due to the global pandemic we are experiencing, online meetings and video calls are commonplace, our industry has even more opportunities for keeping pace with the speed of business. Virtual community and site tours can help expedite the site selection process, and economic development professionals today will need to continue utilizing teleconferencing tools in order to stay competitive.

The Ever-Evolving Role of Economic Developers 

Even pre-pandemic, economic developers were already beginning to leverage the option of virtual tours. This effort to remain flexible and adaptable with the changing times is what gives economic development teams a strategic edge. As modes of communication shift, so too should the site selection and economic development process.

Our team at Ginovus has taken notice of economic development professionals that not only have adopted, but successfully executed virtual community and site tours. Considering the advantages gained from this approach, we believe that more professionals in our industry and community leaders will continue to make this shift. Staying current with technology can help ensure that social distancing requirements do not slow the pace of commercial real estate development or site selection considerations.

Virtual Tour Benefits for Site Selection 

Virtual tours are a compelling option for c-suite executives, site selectors and economic development professionals to consider new possibilities for their future site selection needs. And when coordinated effectively, these activities provide benefits for all parties. Virtual tours are budget friendly due to the lack of investment in travel expenses and more efficient in terms of the use of time. In our own experience following up with clients and community leaders, they readily agree that virtual tour events have been well received and convenient. 

The virtual tour process still allows for interaction between the economic development team, various community leaders, corporate decision makers and site selection consultants. Plus, they provide communities, states, and regions new opportunities to be creative with their storytelling, and that makes the site selection process more fun and engaging for everyone involved.

Adapting with Tech, Keeping the Personal Touch 

Economic development teams have a crucial part to play in how communities will grow and thrive during this unique post-COVID timeline. Teams can still visit with communities in-person, but there’s no denying that virtual community and site tours offer a unique advantage. That being said, other elements of our work are sure to hold steady.

The economic development process has always been linked to professional connections and networking. Despite the social distancing measures we are currently experiencing, that fact that our industry relies on building personal relationships will never change. Moving at the speed of business is a key differentiator for progressive economic development organizations and communities alike. Part of bolstering that personal connection comes from working with technology that business leaders are already comfortable using. This migration toward virtual communication strategies can help ensure assets do not get overlooked by companies that are eager to make a move.

Making good use of all the communication tools at our disposal today can help drive cities, regions, and states toward a bright future with like-minded, forward-thinking companies. Those who are willing to embrace virtual communication models are bound to increase their chances of success. Partnerships between elected officials and economic development professionals have always been essential to help grow local economies, and virtual tours are proving to be a new key option in creating and maintaining momentum in the site selection process.