Online Discussion Examines Role of GIS in Economic Gardening

Industry Leaders Weigh In on Readiness of Economic Developers to Apply Geospatial Technology

In the latest installment of the online Spatial Roundtable, the Esri global industry manager for community development, Ahmed Abukhater, compares the traditional economic development strategy of luring big business with the new trend of developing existing small businesses called economic gardening. Abukhater explains that geographic information system (GIS) technology is a key component to successful economic gardening programs and asks, “Are economic developers ready to take on the challenge of promoting healthier economic development through mindful application of GIS technology?”

Though Abukhater acknowledges economic gardening as a new concept, he believes that it builds on the traditional economic development strategies of business retention and expansion that have been in place for decades. He asserts that cultivating existing businesses for economic growth and utilizing GIS are the keys to rising above current economic challenges.

One of the first voices to weigh in on the discussion is Chris Gibbons, cocreator of the economic gardening approach and director of business/industry affairs for Littleton, Colorado. “The ability to target local markets by demographics, lifestyle, and consumer expenditure patterns can be accomplished at an exquisitely fine scale using GIS,” he notes. Gibbons goes on to say that GIS is one of the sophisticated tools he uses to make his economic gardening program successful.

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[Source: Esri press release]