Negotiating and Showcasing Incentives: 4 Tips from the Site Selectors Guild

In the past two years, corporate incentives have been a hot topic of discussion for both the media and corporate executives. Regardless of whether incentives are perceived as “good” or “bad,” panelists at the Site Selectors Guild Conference believe incentives are both necessary and extremely important components of convincing a company to select your location.

Experts on incentives and negotiations who spoke at this year’s Site Selectors Guild Conference included Angelos Angelou, AngelouEconomics; Tracey Hyatt Bosman, Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Company; Mark Sweeney, McCallum Sweeney Consulting; and Mark Williams, Strategic Development Group, Inc.

Negotiating and showcasing incentives in economic development

Tracey Hyatt Bosman and Angelos Angelou. Photo courtesy of Site Selectors Guild and InSync Photography + Design

While incentives are just one component of the overall site selection process, here are several “best practices” for economic developers to keep in mind when showcasing and/or negotiating incentives:

  1. Timing is Everything: Timing is critical especially when it pertains to the start date of benefits, frequency of payments and the net present value. Also remember that wage requirements can greatly impact an incentive program’s value.
  2. The Devil is in the Details: When it comes to incentives negotiations, always pay close attention to the fine print on claw-back provisions, understand conditions and payment schedule of tax credit refunds, keep records of incentives commitments and make sure to develop innovative incentives that target project specific needs.
  3. Beware of the Bottom Line: Economic developers must be aware of the client’s internal targets, e.g. “this move needs to save us X amount of money.” Also highlighted was the importance of demonstrating a unified front between state and local governments whenever possible. Side note: it’s a big plus to get approval without the name of the company being disclosed.
  4. Incentives Can Get You in the Game: Incentives are great marketing tools because they set the tone of your community’s or state’s business friendliness, which in turn can increase the number of calls and “get you in the game.” One example shared by the panelists is that of New Jersey, which has received a lot of attention recently about the state’s incentives overhaul. It’s likely that New Jersey will make that initial list more frequently as a result of this positive publicity.

So despite the perceived controversy surrounding incentives, they do ultimately play a strategic role in site selection decision, especially toward the end of the process when incentives could be the deciding factor on whether or not a company decides to commit.

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Forward Sioux Falls Creatively Showcases Its Marketing ROI

Forward Sioux Falls marked the halfway point of its current economic development campaign with this easy-to-digest, graphically pleasing infographic, which shows investors and community members exactly what’s been achieved with their marketing dollars. Created in-house, the infographic has been shared through email and social media, will be featured in the organization’s next Report to Investors and will be part of a full-page ad in Sioux Falls’ local business journal next month, alongside an article about the team behind the marketing efforts.

“Marketing is always being challenged to prove their ROI. I think the infographic gives the metrics in an easy-to-understand format,” said Carolyn Winchell, the director of investor relations at Forward Sioux Falls.

Economic development organizations take note; this is a creative way to share marketing results with your constituents.

Sioux Falls Marketing Infographic

Is your EDO communicating marketing efforts in a creative way? We’d love to hear about it in a comment below!

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Thought Leadership in Economic Development

What do Jeff Finkle, Richard Florida and Eric Canada have in common (aside from – like me – being white males in the 50+ age range)? They’re all admired for their leadership and innovation in the economic development industry. These thought leaders drive conversation, act as trusted resources, grab others’ attention and share helpful knowledge to spur change.

In a recent survey involving 197 senior economic developers in North America, we asked, “What economic development thought leaders/experts do you regularly follow?”

The top responses are shared below:

Economic Development Thought Leader - Jeff Finkle


Jeff Finkle
Who: President and CEO, IEDC
Survey Rating: 12%
Twitter: @jeffreyfinkle



Economic Development Thought Leader - Richard Florida


Richard Florida
Who: Author
Survey Rating: 8.4%
Twitter: @Richard_Florida



Economic Development Thought Leader


Andy Levine
Who: President, DCI
Survey Rating: 7.8%
Twitter: @DCI_Andy



Economic Development Thought Leader Eric Canada


Eric Canada
Who: Chief Strategist, Blane, Canada Ltd.
Survey Rating: 5.4%
Twitter: @edmarketingpro



Economic Development Thought Leader - Joel Kotkin


Joel Kotkin
Who: Author
Survey Rating: 4.2%
Twitter: @joelkotkin



Ron Kitchens - Economic Development Thought Leader


Ron Kitchens
Who: CEO, Southwest Michigan First
Survey Rating: 4.2%
Twitter: @ronkitchens
Blog: always forward



Note: While I was pleased and surprised to see my name among the top thought leaders (it certainly impressed my mother-in-law at our family holiday party), my numbers were undoubtedly inflated given that the survey came from my email address.

Although there are many more tremendous leaders in our profession, you can be sure to stay up-to-date on the most recent news, trends and ideas by following this group of individuals.

Who do you consider a thought leader in the economic development industry? Tell us in a comment below!

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Email Marketing Best Practices for Tourism

After waking up, what’s the first thing you do in the morning? Brush your teeth? Make coffee? If you answered check email on your phone, you’re not alone.

According to SOASTA, 67 percent of smartphone users who check apps look at email first thing in the morning. That means one of the most effective means of reaching your consumers when their mind is still fresh is through mobile-friendly emails that arrive in the early morning hours

And email marketing remains one of the tactics with the highest return-on-investment (ROI), with an ROI of $40 for every $1 spent.

ROI Email chart

Yet with so many emails, how do you stand out as a travel destination? Here are seven best email marketing practices for tourism organizations.

“It was a dark and stormy night…” Your emails should tell a compelling story. Curate content that is helpful, informative, provides advice or answers common visitor questions. For example, write about upcoming events, off the beaten path adventures, hidden gems, seasonal activities or new restaurants. South Dakota has compelling content with their featured attraction of Prairie Berry Winery and Hill City as a hub for art and wine.

South Dakota1

Sometimes a single scoop is all you need. Use single column design in your emails. For mobile-friendly optimization, one-column design or responsive design (that will auto adjust based on screen size) is best. Little Rock has a simple, single-column design with each article organized in color block rows for easy readability or scanning.

Little Rock


Candid close-ups. Incorporate strong visuals to complement your content. For each story or article, include one strong image. Choose an image that entices the reader to click; it doesn’t need to be a professional image from a photo shoot. It can however be an Instagram picture that received a lot of shares. Here are some travel photography tips:

  • Capture local people in candid moments
  • Snap photos of ordinary things in an unexpected way. Take a picture of someone buying fruit at a local market, but tilt your camera at an angle. Or take a picture of someone walking their dog, riding a bicycle, sitting on a park bench, etc.
  • Take close-ups! People love to look at interesting foods, items for sale or patterns.
  • Show architectural details like beams on the cottage ceiling or bolts in a building.

New Orleans has some colorful close-up photography in their email that really gets your attention.

New Orleans


Short & sweet. Embrace brevity and keep your emails short. Your emails should be a content teaser with links to the full articles. If your email is a newsletter format, make sure each article is no more than a two sentence teaser with a link to the full article. Or use bullet points to break up text. Visit Phoenix has just enough content to pique your interest and make you want to know more.



It’s ok to wear white after Labor Day. Remember to use whitespace. Email design should be simple with lots of whitespace. This will help the reader quickly scan the content and not be overwhelmed by too many pictures or content. Reno does an excellent job of utilizing white space.



Hook, Line & Sinker. Use creative and relevant subject lines. Limit subject lines to 50 characters or less. Subject lines should reflect the content—even newsletters should have unique subject lines. Repeating the exact same subject line for each newsletter is good for continuity but accelerates drop-off rates.

Subject Lines


MVPs for your CVB. Always feature a call-to-action or additional ways for consumers to connect or engage beyond a “Learn More” button. All your articles or teasers should have a call-to-action, but make sure travelers can also connect on social media or contact you with any questions. Explore Georgia is on an impressive amount of social channels and includes icons with links for each one.

Explore Georgia


And for inspiration outside the industry.

Although not a CVB or Tourism Department, StyleBlueprint produces our favorite email. The email is released daily at 5 AM (the first email you see when you wake up), has beautiful photography and a very small teaser. It’s also compatible on web, tablet or mobile.




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How Economic Development Organizations are Leveraging Super Bowl XLVIII for the Win

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Advice for New Members in Economic Development

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Why Economic Development Marketing Should be about Helping not Selling

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8 Tips for a Memorable Site Selector FAM Tour

Yesterday, DCI revealed several top tips for hosting a successful familiarization (FAM) tour during our webinar, “When Site Selectors Come to Visit: 8 Tips for a Memorable FAM Tour.” In case you missed the tips from our panelists, Susie Webb, a senior coordinator with the occupier services group at Cassidy Turley, and Elisabeth Kulinski, a […]

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Travel Weekly’s Top Tips for DMOs

Every year Travel Weekly compiles the results of an industry survey that asks travel retailers in depth questions about how they’re doing, what they’re doing and even how they feel about what they’re doing. The findings of this report create a literal and figurative “big picture” of travel trade. Based on Travel Weekly’s research findings, […]

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