ABCD’s Matt Fox Earns IEDC Certification
Several years ago, I had the privilege to serve on the search committee for the staff person who was to fill my former position here at the Altoona Blair County Development (ABCD) Corporation. Among the many strong candidates, one stood out and has gone on to make a significant impact for the organization. For a decade now, ABCD Marketing Manager Matt Fox has been building partnerships, marketing our region and creating new techniques to communicate why and how Blair County is the best place to live, work and enjoy.
It is not easy to translate traditional product or private sector marketing approaches to the world of economic development. Matt made that switch and has never looked back. This month Matt secured the rigorous International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Professional Certification. What’s the best way to congratulate him following such a tough exam? Asking him more questions of course.
I took this opportunity to check in with Matt on his thoughts and perspectives on the changing world of economic development…
McKnight: First, congratulations on passing the exam and further honing your economic development skills. What have been the biggest changes you have seen in this profession since you started 10 years ago?
Fox: Thank you Steve, in all honesty I couldn’t have passed the exam and completed all the training without the support and guidance of the entire organization. I am very thankful to everyone that has made this possible. I think that the exponential advances in technology have changed the profession in both how information is presented and shared, and the social media story telling that a location must do in today’s age. But the one thing that has remained a constant for success is the people of a community and its leadership – without the right team of dedicated knowledgeable people with a passion for a place, the success won’t happen to its fullest potential.
McKnight: How well did the exam and the process overall reflect today’s actual challenges and practice?
Fox: The courses and their presenters provided real-world situations to economic development processes that someone could take back to their home communities and implement or evaluate how they are currently solving problems. The classes also provided opportunities to network and share best practices from economic colleagues from across the globe who are an invaluable resource. The exam itself is rigorous and its baseline of knowledge and procedures are the foundation for the implementations that have changed and will continue to change throughout time.
McKnight: Where do you see things heading in the next 10 years? What will be some of the biggest challenges community’s like ours may face?
Fox: Communities like ours will continue to face some of the challenges that are prevalent throughout the country and globe as it relates to the availability of talent for our existing companies as well as our ability to be competitive in site selection opportunities. The ability for communities to be able to market their region to keep and retain people will remain forefront in economic development efforts and we will see an increase in collaborations with our destination marketing organizations to reach people and “sell” the uniqueness and employment opportunities here.
McKnight: What are the advantages Blair County has to offer new investors, whether they be companies or residents?
Fox: This place and these mountains have forged a sense of place that embodies its people of the First Frontier, Blair County. We are innovative, entrepreneurial, dedicated, hard-working and above all else real and true to our word as friends, colleagues and leaders. Combine our people with our infrastructure, educational opportunities, 4 seasons of recreational family fun and revitalized downtowns and you will see the advantages for yourself when you visit.
Thanks again Matt and congratulations on this big milestone. Matt frequents many of our local brew pubs in the area, so if you see him, he likely would not refuse a congratulatory craft.