Economic Development Goes Cyber

    GRAND RAPIDS — The West Michigan Economic Development Partnership is working to promote West Michigan as a prime place for business investment and has chosen the information superhighway to do it.

    Knoware, a Grand Rapids-based software studio, has been chosen for the project, which will join the forces of economic development professionals in Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon and Allegan counties in addition to Whitaker Associates and Consumers Energy, which make up the Economic Development Partnership.

    WMEDP recently tapped Knoware from a field of more than three-dozen competitors to build a premier Web site that would showcase the economic development potential of the region.

    “With increased competition for investment dollars it is critical for West Michigan to differentiate itself from other regions of the country,” said Greg Northrup, director of economic development for WMEDP. “WMEDP is looking to position the region, not just as a single community, as a prime location for companies looking to expand or relocate. These organizations will do much of their preliminary research online, so it’s important for West Michigan to have a strong Web presence.”

    Knoware Vice President Eric Hass said the company is well equipped for the project.

    “WMEDP, like other groups of its kind, has a very diverse audience with which it communicates,” said Hass. “The challenge for us is to build a technology solution that offers an incredible amount of information to a wide variety of people, all with different needs, and do it in a way that is both easy and engaging. The marketing and communication strategy will be equally as important as the technical aspects of this project. We’re very pleased to be a part of something that will help build the community where we live and work.”

    The regional economic development Web site will provide data and contact information to prospective businesses. Data tables, maps and assorted demographic economic and population statistics will give an important edge to the entire West Michigan region, he said.           

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