The Importance of Maps in Economic Development
A site selector finds Aurora's economic development website. But is it the right Aurora? A quick google search reveals an Aurora in each of Colorado, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, and Oregon in addition to Aurora, Ontario. A good location map answers the questions: do I have the right Aurora, and where is Aurora in relation to (name a city)?
Everyone is familiar with the expression 'a picture can speak a thousand words'. This is especially true for maps used in economic development websites and marketing materials. Maps are highly sought after by site selectors because a good map can convey a lot of information very quickly. Imagine yourself reading a description along these lines "Our city is located along highway X near highway Y. The city is approximately 200 km west of City W and 150 Km east of Municipality Z". Wouldn't you rather glance at a good map and observe the same and much more spatial information in an instant? Trust us, so does a site selector.
In a study performed specifically looking at site selectors' use of Economic Development websites, it was ascertained that 84% of users were either very likely or somewhat likely to visit a page entitled 'maps' (Economic Development Website Users Study 2008, by Chabin Concepts and Austin Consulting - two of our strategic partners, along with First Energy). Obviously good maps are considered a useful tool by site selectors, and they seek them out whenever they can.
Site selectors are looking for opportunities to exclude communities from their list of prospective investment locations. Do not give them that opportunity - Here is how...
The most obvious and necessary map to have in your arsenal is a good Location Map - this map will quickly reference where your community is located with respect to major recognizable cities, provinces and/or states, and landmarks such as the Great Lakes. Some other useful maps are Distance to Market/Market Access Map, Transportation Map, and Labour Shed Map. Examples are shown below.
As with other graphics used in marketing materials, the appearance of your maps will help set the professional appearance of your site and are "re-useable" in your marketing materials and publications, such as the community profile. Maps need to be professionally prepared by a graphic designer (GIS-generated maps are not suitable), need to be simple and readable, and have a modern appearance and colour selection. Lastly, make sure your maps are highly visible and easy to find from the home page of your website - you don't want these useful gems to go to waste.
Market Access Map
Labour Shed Map