As I wrote in this space a year ago, technology for economic development is advancing rapidly, and the pace has only picked up since then. The most obvious example is the spectacular growth in the use of virtual site visits and other applications of GIS technology due to the pandemic.
It is clear that winning economic development organizations in coming years will be those that embrace technology and utilize it to create competitive advantage for their communities.
Yet despite offering many awards for marketing, websites, community leadership and the like, the economic development profession has historically had no recognition of technology leadership.
So what did we do about it? The same thing we did when we saw the need for a modern, Esri-based online sites and buildings technology in 2016. We filled the vacuum -- by creating the industry’s most advanced GIS technology in 2016 and by creating the GIS WebTech Award for Leadership in GIS Technology for Economic Development in 2019.
We believe that economic development professionals that have the foresight to recognize these trends and the courage to act in advance of the crowd deserve to be recognized for their leadership in driving the profession forward.
So it is with great pleasure that we announce Lesli Crofford of the State of Oklahoma’s Department of Commerce as the winner of the second annual GIS WebTech Award for Leadership in GIS Technology for Economic Development!
Lesli has led many of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce’s data and technology initiatives over the years, and was one of the first in the industry to recognize the benefits of utilizing a seamless, single platform – Esri’s ArcGIS – to connect internal GIS and online sites and buildings.
This vision allowed Lesli and her team to integrate local layers into their sites and buildings app with just a few clicks, highlighting state and local incentive zones, foreign trade zones, destinations like parks, and more. Lesli takes full advantage of the full suite of GIS tools available as an integrated platform under the Esri umbrella, and uses these tools to create competitive advantage for Oklahoma in responding to RFI requests from site selectors.
Lesli was also one of the first in the industry to recognize the importance of allowing direct, one-click access to properties in Federal Opportunity Zones.
Lesli has been a critical player in Oklahoma’s record success in recent years, and she is a tireless advocate for her state and a consummate professional.
For these reasons, the entire GIS WebTech team is pleased to name Lesli Crofford the winner of our 2020 award!