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Nonprofit Uses Esri Business Analyst (Canadian Edition) to Help Small Businesses in Central Okanagan Grow
Kelowna, BC – ESRI Canada User Conference – May 12, 2011 – ESRI Canada today presented Community Futures Okanagan Similkameen (CFOS) with an Award of Excellence for advancing its Economic Gardening initiative with ESRI geographic information system (GIS) technology. Through the use of Esri Business Analyst (Canadian Edition), the nonprofit provides small and medium-size businesses in southwestern British Columbia with market research assistance that supports effective business planning and growth.
“Increasing Canada’s competitiveness begins with strengthening the economic well-being of our communities,” said Alex Miller, president, ESRI Canada. “GIS helps in this regard by allowing businesses to visually analyze their target markets and discover viable opportunities for their products and services. Community Futures successfully demonstrates this. With their effective economic gardening system, they are helping numerous Okanagan businesses become more productive and profitable.”
In the past three years, the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen has suffered due to a decrease in the resource industry, losing close to 1,000 jobs. To increase jobs in the community, CFOS launched a new Economic Gardening initiative in October 2010. The first of its kind in the country, the program focuses on connecting existing local businesses with resources to expand their markets, as well as implementing a GIS-based market research tool.
CFOS selected Esri Business Analyst (Canadian Edition) upon recommendations by economic development agencies in the United States that had successful economic gardening programs. The solution combines GIS and extensive geodemographic data for efficient site selection, customer profiling and target marketing. It allows the integration of various databases such as demographics, household spending, corporate data, business lists, census data and other government databases. With the system, CFOS analysts can plot their clients’ customers on a map, create trade areas and view customer clusters. This helps businesses gain insights on their existing customers, determine their best customers and use geographic analysis to find more like them. It also helps them develop strategies to target those new markets.
“GIS is the key technology component of our economic gardening model,” said Su Baker, business analyst, CFOS. “Previously, we had to spend hours searching for information on the Internet or contacting the appropriate government agency to obtain statistics. With Esri Business Analyst, we now have a system for quickly conducting advanced market research and analysis, reducing our research time from two weeks to a few minutes. This allows us to spend more time on analyzing the data and meeting with our customers to better understand their needs.”
The 20-month program is on track to assist 30 small businesses obtain competitive intelligence to develop market strategies and increase revenues. In the future, CFOS plans to enhance their GIS application by creating customized profiles of their neighbourhoods and incorporating search engine optimization to help clients improve the visibility of their Web sites.
For more information about Esri Business Analyst (Canadian Edition), visit esricanada.com/products/businessanalyst.
About Community Futures Okanagan Similkameen
Established in 1984, Community Futures Okanagan Similkameen is a community program that contributes to the social and economic well-being of the Central Okanagan in southwestern British Columbia. It provides small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs with services tailored to individual needs, including financing and training. The program is sponsored by Western Economic Diversification for communities within the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen. More information is available at www.cfokanagan.com.
About ESRI Canada
Founded in 1984, ESRI Canada provides enterprise geographic information system (GIS) solutions that empower businesses, governments and educational institutions to make timely, informed and mission-critical decisions by leveraging the power of geography. The company distributes the world’s leading GIS software from ESRI, Telvent, Cityworks and other technology partners. Headquartered in Toronto, the company serves over 10,000 customers from 16 regional offices across Canada and has been named as one of the top 250 Canadian IT companies and top 25 IT professional services providers in Canada by the Branham Group. Information about ESRI Canada can be found at esricanada.com.