In an attempt to increase the visibility of Hilliard’s economic development department, its director, David Meeks, launched HilliardWorks.com almost 12 months ago.
For the past eight years, economic development was lumped in with all Hilliard’s other city departments on its website, HilliardOhio.gov. That didn’t sit well with Meeks, as he believed the department should have a more distinct presence on the Internet that appeals to its target audience: real estate developers, brokers, site selectors, and businesses.
“The city’s website was targeted towards a different audience: the citizens of Hilliard and those looking for community info rmation and community-based resources,” he says. “These two groups are looking for an entirely different set of information and, with the case of site selectors, if what they are looking for is not readily available or easily navigable, they are likely to simply cross Hilliard off the search list and move on to the next city which meets their initial criteria. Another reason for creating the site was to convey the message that in Hilliard economic development is a priority.”
Hilliard-based Resonant Interactive LLC designed the site.
“I had seen some of [Andrew Limbert’s] work and liked his style,” Meeks says of Resonant Interactive’s president. “It was also important that the web page be produced locally.”
The site’s key feature is a commercial real estate search engine powered by Xceligent, Meeks says, adding that there are few web-based services that offer the ability to perform a commercial real estate search.
“I was impressed with Xceligent’s coverage of the market, participation among local commercial real estate brokers, and its ease of searching and reports functions,” he says.
The site will continue to be a work in progress, although Meeks hopes that will only be apparent behind the scenes. He says he’s been working to expand and improve the sections for small businesses in particular. The main goal is to provide a variety of resources ranging from access to capital and export assistance to advisory boards and general small business assistance resources. There will also be a page dedicated to entrepreneurs.
“Since the site was launched in the midst of the lending crisis, the majority of information available today relates to capital access and assistance through the Ohio Small Business Development Centers,” he says. “The resources available to small business via the page should be significantly expanded in the coming months.”
Down the road, the web will continue to play an integral role in the Hilliard Economic Development Department’s efforts. However, a large part of economic development is still relationship-based, so Meeks says he envisions the site as a way to make a more informed consumer, leading to a “more positive and productive experience” with the department.
To learn more about economic development in Hilliard, read The Metropreneur’s feature on the city here.