What does a good economic development website look like?

While doing volunteer work at local non-profit organizations and getting the inside scoop on pertinent development details for Aberdeen, Washington, I developed a website privately as if I was doing so for a local non-profit. I recently did some edits to that site and published it. You can see it at downtownaberdeen.blogspot.com.

The site was developed over the course of about two years and quite a lot of research went into it. In addition to taking notes at meetings and gathering info that way for some time, it took me many months to find a source for legally available free maps of the quality I wanted.

There are 247 pages worth of work on the site, only 9 of which are currently published. The rest are drafts full of notes.

If you like the maps on the site and are going "Gosh, darn. I wish I had something that good!", you can legally use any of the maps on the site that have a Creative Commons attribution IF you give proper attribution and link back to the site. You would need to copy and paste the entire attribution on the page with the map in question, links included, and also link back to that site as well. (The edited zoning map does not have a Creative Commons license because the city does not provide such.)

You can even edit the maps and say something like "Original map published on downtownaberdeen.blogspot.com under a Creative Commons license. Additional edits made by [your name]."

Just make sure you include ALL the info in the attributions I have on the site. So your attribution might look something like this (though, ideally, link directly to the page where you found the map):
The Maps on this page are by Stamen Design and are being used under CC BY 3.0. Map Data by OpenStreetMap, under ODbL. They have been edited by Doreen Traylor. Map originally published on downtownaberdeen.blogspot.com. Additional edits made by [FirstName LastName].
If you actually link back to it and give proper attribution that clearly states it is my work, it is perfectly legal to do that. If you don't, I can sue you.

If you wanted to use all of the language and all of the ideas on the site for some project and just update it so the info is current, you would need to pay me and get written permission. But if you just use some of the ideas and don't steal it whole cloth (do your own writing, do NOT copy-paste) and give proper attribution for things like maps, the ideas and most of the maps are FREE for reasonable usage.

That's how a Creative Commons license works.

Although the GIS software used to create the original maps by Stamen Design is complex stuff, please don't be intimidated. My edits were done in Paint. Seriously. This is something almost anyone can take and modify.

Best practice: Save multiple "versions" of the map as you work in case you liked it at SOME point and then messed it all up later. Then you can go back to that point and try again. Versioning just means you save it under a different file name periodically: "map1" and then "map2" and then "map2.1" or whatever.

I asked around in December 2017 when I was just a volunteer and the above website is based on what I was told at that time by an experienced professional. If you wish to create a website for your small town (or unincorporated community) to foster economic development, here is a TLDR of what MUST be on it:
  • Telephone number with which to contact you.
  • A list of some of the top employers and overview of industries in the area.
  • Snapshot of the labor market (unemployment rate, etc).
  • List of local utility providers and links to their sites, especially if you are trying to attract industrial development.
  • A map clearly showing your location that readily gives them context for where you are in relation to major cities and major transit corridors.
Of course, you could also hire me to do the work for you.

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