Key Metrics for Economic Development Marketers and How to Show Them Off

By Andrew Davies

As economic development marketers, your job is crucial for boosting local growth and wealth. What you do directly affects how healthy your region’s economy is. That’s why it’s important to have key stats (KPIs) to track your progress and show what you’ve achieved. Here are some important ones you need to keep an eye on and stunning examples of how to share them with your stakeholders.

1. Expansions / Announcements

Often falling under the umbrella of Business Retention and Expansion (BRE), these numbers are a vital sign of a strong economy. They show that businesses aren’t just surviving but thriving. It’s proof that established companies are growing and creating jobs. Plus, it highlights how appealing the business scene is, drawing in new companies eager to set up shop or expand into fresh markets. For economic development marketers, spreading the word about these expansions and announcements shines a light on the energy and opportunities in your area. This in turn can lure in more interest and investment.

Screenshot of the Wyandotte Economic Development Council BRE webpage showing their KPIs.
Along with the high-level metrics for their expansion and retention announcements, the Wyandotte Economic Development Council also breaks those down into granular metrics in the BRE section of their website.

2. Commercial Space Added

Showing off that your region has added commercial space is a tangible representation of its economic growth. It signifies an increased demand for business operations, which implies the creation of new jobs. The square footage of available commercial, industrial, or office space signals to new businesses looking to set up shop in the area.

Screenshot of the Arlington Economic Development annual report page where they highlight their KPIs.
Arlington Economic Development puts a snapshot of their big metrics near the front of their annual report.

3. New Attraction Projects Worked

Flashy new companies and expansions tend to get most of the attention, but behind every ground-breaking, there’s a lot of work going unseen. This involves a lot of presenting, visiting, and meeting to attract new companies to the region. This metric, then, represents the potential for your region’s economic growth, so it’s crucial to emphasize this number for a couple of reasons:

  • Shows Activity and Engagement: It highlights your organization’s proactive stance and involvement in pursuing new business opportunities. This can boost your reputation and credibility.
  • Demonstrates transparency: it offers transparency about your organization’s actions and accountability to stakeholders like investors, local government, and the community.
  • Measures Progress and Effectiveness: it helps you see how well your lead-generation efforts are working. Giving you useful information to improve your strategies.
  • Creating Connections: Actively pursuing potential customers is like nurturing relationships, which is essential in economic development marketing. It shows a dedication to building ties with possible businesses and investors, ultimately helping the region’s economy grow.
Screenshot of the Pasco County's annual report showcasing their KPIs in particular the number of leads.
Pasco County’s annual report devotes an entire page to their KPIs including the number of leads ad active projects they’re pursuing.

4. New Job Opportunities

With economic growth comes more job opportunities. So, this metric serves as a barometer of the region’s economic health and can be used to showcase growth and prosperity. This in turn attracts even more businesses and investors.  It also builds goodwill with your community by demonstrating the positive impact your economic development efforts are having on local employment. This is especially useful in times of economic uncertainty. Highlighting a thriving job market in your area counters any negative perceptions and showcases your region’s resilience.

Collage of 3 of SEDA's digital annual reports featuring their "By the Numbers" section at the very top.
Each year our friends at SEDA ask us to put their “By the Numbers” recap in the top section of their digital Annual Report.

5. Total Investment

Total investment is a catch-all figure for all expansion, attraction, and real estate investment. It quantifies the economic impact of all these activities, providing a broad measure of the region’s economic health. Tracking the total investment attracted to the region year after year, economic development marketers can effectively assess their performance, identify trends, and make informed decisions to further attract investment and foster economic growth.

Screenshot of the Loudon County's annual report page where they showcase their KPIs.
Loudon County Virgina touts it’s big numbers by using, literal big numbers.

Now Flaunt Your Stats for Maximum Effect

Don’t be shy. These metrics aren’t meant to stay in your office or buried in an annual report. Show them off proudly to highlight the great impact your efforts are making on your region’s growth. As seen in the examples above, pair these metrics with eye-catching visuals like icons, charts, or infographics to drive the message home and make it stick in people’s minds.