Often when looking to start a new venture, or if you’ve already started and need some help there are a variety of resources available to help you. In many cases there are organizations and businesses who have a broader reach or financial resources than you do, but are interested in helping you with your program, event, or project. Depending on where you live you might want to consider looking into your local economic development corporation. If you don’t know what an EDC is it’s defined as:
“An organization common in the United States, usually a 501(c) (3) non-profit, whose mission is to promote economic development within a specific geographical area. These organizations are complementary to Chambers of Commerce. Whereas a Chamber of Commerce promotes the interests of businesses in a particular geographic area, an EDC typically focus on longer term economic growth by attracting new businesses. Generally, an EDC can be found at the state level to attract business to a particular state. The state level EDC often works closely with local EDCs and may offer low interest loans, grants, tax credits and other economic incentives to attract businesses”.
Now that we have a general understanding of what an EDC is, how do we approach or work with them? This takes a bit of research on your part to figure out who to contact. While this could be a bit intimidating by and large the EDC wants to help you as long as you can show the value of your product, program, event, and how it will help the region in general the want to help. For example, you want to host an event, but you need some help promoting it, coordinating space, coordinating hotel reservations, potential sponsors, etc. The EDC can help you because they should already have a number of connections in those areas and can become a central point for you to make connections. The EDC understands that if they have the resources to spend $10,000 to promote or bring an event to the region they will, especially if the return on that investment brings in $20,000-100,000 in revenue to the region. Frankly, this is one reason why cities have been investing heavily on building and developing sports fields. They know that hosting a tournament of 100 teams every weekend over the summer is going to bring millions to the local economy.
A great example of this is Hoopfest in Spokane, WA. Hoopfest is the largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the world. The tournament literally takes over the streets on downtown Spokane for the weekend. Throughout its existence it has helped Spokane be a destination for players looking for a unique experience. The economic boom for this event is beneficial to hotels, restaurants, and other businesses in the area, while also showcasing Spokane’s other tourist interests. Events like this benefit so many outside of the initial tournament organization that it’s worth looking into if you’re putting an event together.
The potential economic impact for your event could have a very positive impact on a number of businesses. If you’re able to show that benefit the EDC and other businesses may turn around and become long term partners or sponsors in your event, especially in the future. If you’re in the process of putting an event together do some research, get out and meet people, and connect with your local businesses. The more people you get invested in the success of the event the more likely it will be a success.