An online tool developed by TEEX’s Knowledge Engineering Center will help Economic Development Districts (EDDs) to more easily manage, track, document and share information about community economic development projects. The system, now in beta-testing, was developed with funding from the Economic Development Administration.
The tool was built upon a successful reporting system developed for EDA-funded University Centers, said Aimee Barnes, Program Coordinator for the Knowledge Engineering Center.
In a partnership with CAPCOG, representatives from each state in the EDA Southwest Region (Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico) participated in focus group meetings that shaped the design of the new system, Barnes added. Some of the needed features highlighted by the focus groups included electronic reporting, sharing success stories, a regional Directory, and automated communications between EDA and the EDDs.
“The tool is accessible 24/7 and gives EDDs a better way to capture data and document the project work they do, as well as generate a variety of reports,” Barnes said.
KEC programmers Van Trinh and Vince Riggins were instrumental in developing the system to the required specifications. The system was unveiled in June to EDA program staff, and an awareness campaign is underway to educate the 56 EDDs in the Southwest Region on the software tool and its features.
“I was very impressed with both the breadth and depth of the system,” said Nicholas Johnson, Economic Development coordinator for the Texas Association of Regional Councils (TARC). “For example, data related to the project and client as well as information related to project performance and progress provided data fields that were both qualitative and quantitative in nature, allowing for a full picture of a project’s goals and objectives to be painted.”
Barnes presented information about the tool at the Texas Association of Regional Councils Conference in September and plans to make similar presentations in other states in the region. She said the new system is scheduled to “go-live” at the Southwest Region Annual Conference in Santa Fe, NM, in December.