Those of us who live and work in the Bradenton area have a pretty good idea of how dynamic this community has become.
Examples of positive change are everywhere: new employers, new high-impact jobs, the Bradenton Riverwalk, a new downtown hotel. Like every community, we have our challenges, but a new sense of optimism and vitality is apparent as the effects of the recession begin to ebb.
We locals may be aware of the positive buzz that's circulating and the many assets our area offers to incoming businesses, but the people who actually make decisions about where businesses -- and their jobs -- locate aren't very familiar with us.
To counter that perception, the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. recently launched a new website, www.ThinkBradentonArea.com, as the centerpiece of our outreach to grow high-impact jobs by attracting new employers and serving local businesses in targeted industry sectors.
In late 2012, the EDC introduced a bold outreach initiative to guide the Bradenton Area's nine communities in attracting and retaining companies, growing jobs and creating a more diverse local economy. This initiative "bolts on" to a multi-year economic development strategy created in 2009 with broad community participation.
To create the outreach strategy, we investigated how our community is perceived by a number of different audiences. One key audience was corporate relocation consultants who advise business executives on facilities location decisions. These consultants have looked at scores of communities as potential locations for their clients. What were their views of Manatee County?
We found that nearby communities, such as Tampa, are very much on the radar of corporate relocation and site consultants, but the Bradenton area has historically been overlooked. Only a third of the consultants interviewed were aware of Manatee County, compared to nearly two thirds for some of the most competitive markets our researchers have seen.
The Bradenton area is a dynamic community that offers key location assets that today's global businesses demand. Our charge at the EDC is to deliver that message to growth companies that create high-impact jobs.
We know that business site selection begins online with site consultants and facilities managers combing through community websites for the right combination of assets, facilities and workforce. With our new website, we are able to showcase those hot
buttons like never before.
The goal is to increase Bradenton's chances ofbeing "short listed" bysite selection consultants and companies planning to expand or relocate.
A powerful tool on the new site is a GIS-based system for investigating business location options in the Bradenton area.
The nation's most successful communities in recruiting new employers and jobs have incorporated this technologyinto their websites to attract and serve site selectors.
The website also spotlights several businesses that have grown up or moved here -- a diverse set of employers with great success stories to share.
Additionally, the website provides extensive information on business resources available to businesses that locate here, as well as highlighting community assets like our incredible lifestyle and robust workforce development services.
No doubt, we can have the most powerful website in the universe, but if our target audiences don't see it, we will not be successful. Using professional search engine marketing and optimization, we are seeking to generate qualified traffic that turns into valuable leads and ultimately, new businesses and jobs for the community.
The Bradenton area is well positioned to be recognized as a global business destination. The EDC's goal, through our new website and other outreach activities, is to let our target audiences know it.
Sharon Hillstrom, president and chief executive officer of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. (www.thinkbradentonarea.com), may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 748-4842, ext. 128.