MDB Insight Blog


What’s Wrong With Your Economic Development Tools?

An Examination of BR&E, Labour Market Intelligence and Cultural Development

As an economic developer, when you want to find out what your community does well and where it can improve, your go-to tools are business retention and expansion (BR&E), labour market intelligence (LMI) analysis, or cultural analysis. You use these traditional economic development tools with the best intentions, and they put you on the right path to providing your community with solutions for success.

But traditional tools often lack something fundamental: resources in real time. Added to the lack of real-time data is the fact that these popular economic development tools have limitations, such as budget constraints and the challenges of competing amidst near (and far) rural markets. You might not be able to rely on traditional tools as you once hoped.

First, let’s look at BR&E.

Effective BR&E Requires Resources in Real Time

Four challenges your community (every community!) experiences when conducting BR&E are:

  1. Time: there is never enough of it - both to conduct interviews and to analyze the information collected.
  2. Resources: because you don’t have a lot of time to do the BR&E yourself you might have to rely on volunteers, or less experienced staff, to do it for you.
  3. Experience and Expertise: since you’re relying on perspectives within your community, whether that is yourself, a colleague in your office, or a community volunteer, you can’t guarantee the quality of the information collected. It’s hard to even be certain that the right businesses have been targeted - let alone that they have been asked the right questions.
  4. Quick action: collecting the data from your community’s businesses takes a lot of time. Doing subsequent analysis takes time. Suddenly those businesses that you flagged as needing help may have already pulled themselves out of that critical period - without your help - or may no longer be salvageable. This is not exactly the good news story you as an economic developer are seeking in starting your project.

You need to be able to collect accurate data and analyze it in real time so that you can give the businesses that are at risk in your community the help and attention they need now.

To create an effective BR&E tool you need: the time to do it well; and, the resources to take action as an expert in a way that will make a timely difference to your community. If you don’t foresee any of that in your near future, hiring a consulting firm to do it for you is the best way to support your local business community.

At MDB Insight, we’re using new methods to collect more meaningful data so that you have the resources to take action in real time. We’re using innovative tools so that “custom” BR&E methods don’t have to have a custom price tag attached.

Find Out Where Job Demand Overlaps With Labour Supply

For economic developers, a labour market intelligence (LMI) tool needs to be more effective than only showing you where the jobs are, because that’s only showing you half of a potential problem.

When you want to make your community - which you already know is great - a better place to work, live, and thrive, whether to attract and cultivate a young workforce or to help the businesses seeking talent right now, your LMI must:

  • Immediately show you where the job demand overlaps with the labour supply in real time so you can get some quick wins and satisfy those demands.
  • Further break down supply and demand by criteria (like education level, industry, and geography) to help prepare groups, such as a youth workforce, with community talent development strategies.
  • Help you track change day-by-day. Only with a comprehensive reporting system can you be agile enough to respond to changing needs.

As an economic developer, you need the ability to analyze the ever-changing online footprint of your job market and labour supply in real time, so you can shore up weaknesses in your community, plan for the future, attract investment, and immediately support existing businesses.

Using the same budget you already have, you can invest, once, in the right system that gives real-time comprehensive data you can trust, year after year. This will save your community reinvesting in LMI research that takes too long, is inaccurate and is ill-equipped to actually help your community keep pace with changing demand.

Invest in Cultural Development to Help Your Community Stand Out


You already know: investing in activities, events, and local tourism anchors not only develops your community culturally, it attracts visitors, business, and revenue to your community. You also know that creating a sense of place elevates your community to help you achieve all these desirable outcomes.

But, unfortunately, economic developers who try to set this up often have obstacles blocking their path: competing internal interests within the community; poor communication of everything the community has to offer; or the inability to quickly market the community to a large enough audience. These challenges, combined with the time-sensitive nature of so many cultural events (weather, dates, etc.), results in multiple missed opportunities to showcase your community and to welcome the wealth that visitors and new residents can bring. Such loss of revenue year after year adds up and can never be recouped: the bleed has to be stopped as soon as you uncover it.

To properly invest in your community’s cultural development and create a sense of place, you need:

  • An index of everything you have on offer and a confident understanding of what sets you apart from nearby communities.
  • The ability to share your community’s cultural events and activities in real time - to an already faithful audience.
  • To make it easier for event and cultural organizers within your community to communicate and plan collaboratively.

Using innovative tools never before seen in economic development, it’s possible to achieve all these cultural development requirements within your community’s existing budget. Here’s how to make sure you’re not the last one to know how to do that.

Investing in better strategies for cultural development, LMI, and BR&E is possible with MDB Insight. We provide accessible economic development tools that provide higher level solutions to improve your economic development strategies.

Find out what else your community needs to stay competitive: Download this ebook.

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