As we wrap up Economic Development Week, we sat down with GO Topeka’s Business Development Manager Rhiannon Friedman. She let us in on GO Topeka, what Topeka has to offer prospective businesses and site selectors, and some of the misconceptions attached to Economic Development.
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Q: In your own words, how would you describe GO Topeka? How is it unique from other Economic Development organizations?
RF: I don’t think everyone knows that GO Topeka stands for Growth Organization. Our purpose is to promote the community and bring new businesses to town to find sites and workers. We also help existing businesses with expansion projects here in the community – to grow their business and expand their workforce.
Q: What are your major responsibilities within your position?
RF: My major responsibility is to get out in front of as many people as much as possible to promote Topeka & Shawnee County. Commercial consultants and site consultants, these are people who support large companies and organizations, helping them expand and grow their company. We keep them up to date on what’s happening here so that they can make the best decision on where the company will go.
Q: How do you go about selling Topeka to site consultants? How do you keep them interested in our community?
RF: That’s a good question. It’s really about consistency. We try to meet these people and build relationships with them. That’s what I think keeps them interested. We bring them community resources and help them make vital connections. Another priority is constant contact - keeping them up to date with what’s happening here.
GO Topeka also creates a number of customized incentive packages.
We understand the costs of building a company from the ground up, and I think we incentivize that process much more than many other communities do.
In addition to site tours, GO Topeka also hosts FAM tours for site consultants. We show them the sites they’re interested in, as well as the great sites to see in Topeka. This way we can fill them in on how much fun it is to live in Topeka.
Q: In your experience, what do people not understand about the field of Economic Development?
RF: I’m not sure people understand how much work goes into bringing new businesses to Topeka and the amount of partnerships we utilize. We are working with engineers, city officials, utility providers. There’s a lot of planning and mapping that goes into pitching a site to someone.
They might also not know how competitive the process is. Seven other states, with multiple cities might be going after this project. We’re working on how to diversify us, strategizing how to make Topeka stand out in the crowd.
To learn more about GO Topeka and the impact of Economic Development, visit GoTopeka.com!