If You Build It…You Get One ‘Awesome’ City

Cody Chomiak, CDME, Economic Development Winnipeg, Tourism Winnipeg, YES! Winnipeg

In order for communities to truly understand economic development—what it is and why it is important—we need to strip away the industry jargon and buzzwords and explain it in meaningful ways.

I get asked the same question regularly – “What is economic development?” 

It’s a question posed to many organizations tasked with growing the economy of a city, province or state. There are plenty of explanations floating around but they can be quite complicated.

In order for communities to truly understand economic development—what it is and why it is important—we need to strip away the industry jargon and buzzwords and explain it in meaningful ways.

That is what the marketing & branding team at Economic Development Winnipeg set out to do. We wanted to be relevant and engaging, but most importantly, illustrate concepts in the most basic and impactful ways. A key distinction that most organizations miss when they talk about economic development, is the role that tourism plays.

Tourism is a vital and important driver for economic development. One of the best quotes I’ve heard from this is from Maura Gast, Executive Director at Irving Convention & Visitors Bureau:

“If you build a place people want to visit, you build a place where people want to live. If you build a place where people want to live, you'll build a place where people want to work. If you build a place where people want to work, you build a place where business needs to be. If you build a place where business has to be, you'll build a place where people have to visit.”

With that in mind, the team came together and started talking about concepts, ideas and ways to answer this question. We also wanted this to be more than just a video.  What resulted was the idea to target the next generation of economic developers—students. And better way to engage than with a Lego stop motion video?

We created a microsite that included a group assignment in consultation with two real-world teachers, and a stop motion guide, We also made the video generic so other destinations could spread the word and share this with their community, politicians and partners.

The results wildly exceeded our expectations. We generated over $200,000 in earned media, with local, national and international coverage. The video has more than 400,000 views online and growing, and our microsite has had 5,000 visits since the launch. Most importantly, we’ve heard from organizations around the globe that they have used the website and shown the video to their board and community.

Click here to see the video.

It has never been more integral for economic development (EDO) and tourism organizations (DMO) to work together. EDO’s should leverage tourism when going after foreign companies as they are looking for quality of life for their employees and a desirable place to attract a workforce. Talent attraction is everybody’s game, and what better way to truly collaborate then for EDO’s and DMO’s to align their goals, objectives and resources to win. On the tourism side, DMO’s have an opportunity to leverage sector insights in the business events space to use conventions as catalysts to economic development and investment.

As a wise Lego character says in our video:
Economic Development is all about making the place you live awesome!

About Cody:

Cody leads the marketing & branding team for Economic Development Winnipeg, which includes Tourism Winnipeg and YES! Winnipeg. He plans and executes strategic marketing plans to grow the economy through business and talent attraction, and visitation. Cody has extensive background in marketing, branding, graphic design and advertising.

In 2014, Cody received his Certified Destination Management Executive certification. Recognized by the DMO industry as its highest educational achievement, CDME is an advanced educational program for experienced DMO professionals seeking career advancement. He currently resides on the CDME Board as well as the DMAP board through Destination’s International.

In 2012, Cody was selected as one of 30 industry rising stars to participate in Destination International's 30 Under 30 program, which was developed to identify and foster the talent of DMO professionals aged 30 and under through increased access to top-level networking and professional development.