Online network supports economic development
In the information-rich, budget-tight era facing California’s economic development community, a new tool has come on line to support economic development efforts across the state.
TeamCalifornia Online (TCO), developed and sponsored by Southern California Edison, is a computer network linking individual economic development officials and the many public and private economic development agencies in the state.
TCO facilitates communication among the public and private sector participants of TeamCalifonia to help businesses invest, grow and expand throughout California.
Today, more than 450 economic development professionals are using TCO. “This network is designed to let each of us do more with less,” says TCO Marketing Manager Jeff Lebow. Tailored to the collaborative style of economic development efforts, TCO lets the user track multiple agencies, contacts, players and assignments while maintaining accountability for everyone involved.
“This tool is both cost-effective and time-efficient,” Lebow says. “Since information is the key to successful decision making, the online system brings information flow to a new level of sophistication.
“One of the great advantages of the system is reduced phone tag and windshield time,” he says. “Rather than always driving to meetings, you can hold confidential meetings, post notices and actually do a lot of work on line. You can use the network in the way that works best for the specific problem being tackled.”
Accessible through a 24-hour toll-free number or an Internet connection, TCO provides a timely and effective way to communicate about economic development activity. From Siskiyou County to San Diego, the economic development community is using the network to stay on top of developments in local communities and throughout the state with:
* E-mail. Each participant gets an e-mail address and mailbox that can be reached by individuals both within and outside TCO;
* Economic Development Resources. The text of proposed and recently passed state legislation on economic development issues in California is updated continuously. An overview of economic development related Web sites is also available, as are case studies of economic development success stories;
* User Forum. A central area allows professionals to exchange questions about economic resources and strategies. Other discussions are organized by region and by topics such as redevelopment, small business issues, rural economic development and other timely subjects;
* Confidential Project Areas. Much of the network in economic development involves sharing sensitive information among a small group of practitioners at several agencies. TCO accommodates such collaborative projects through special areas where only project participants have access. This allows team members to exchange project updates and meeting notes without compromising confidentiality. Also, memos can be sent with attached documents to a predetermined distribution list, eliminating the need to fax sensitive materials;
* Members Only Areas. TCO has more than 20 areas exclusively for members of various organizations. New organizations are added each week and can be identified online by their logos;
* Calendar of Events. Future events concerning economic development are listed in a single location;
* Who’s Who in Economic Development. TCO includes complete directories of economic development professionals active in TeamCalifornia, organized by name, agency and city;
* Leads. A bulletin board for posting leads is available, providing a convenient and confidential mechanism for sharing leads within the economic development community; and
* Live Chat. Groups, both large and small, can hold real-time discussions on economic development projects. Organizers of chat groups can choose to limit participation to keep discussions confidential, or chat groups can be open to all interested participants. TCO also plans to organize scheduled real-time discussion groups on pertinent topics, inviting industry experts to participate and answer questions.
Since TCO was designed to support on-going economic development activities, it offers a valuable combination of open networking opportunities and a secure environment for confidential information exchanges. File and e-mail security are top priorities of the network.
Training sessions and software needed to access TCO are provided by Southern California Edison at no cost. All that is needed is a computer with a modem. The network’s easy-to-use graphic interface lets participants go online quickly using either Windows or Macintosh systems.
For more information, contact Southern California Edison’s Economic & Business Development Group at (800) 3-Edison.
The TeamCalifornia Online computer network is accessible 24 hours a day via a toll-free number or an Internet connection. Services available include:
* Economic Development Resources
* User Forum
* Confidential Project Areas
* Members Only Areas
* Calendar of Events
* Who’s Who in Economic Development
* Live Chat