Innovative Cluster Maps Aid Virtual Outreach, Recognized with C2ER Research Award


When COVID-19 halted in-person outreach, the Detroit Regional Partnership (DRP) innovated in award-winning fashion.

The organization created seven unique interactive industry cluster story maps and business cases to engage site selectors and investors. These new resources armed its business development team with the tools to pursue investment virtually throughout the pandemic.

That work recently earned a 2021 Community, Economic, and Workforce Research Award from the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) during its virtual Annual Conference June 7 – 11. The C2ER awards recognize the contribution of research activities to the success of local, regional, or state community, economic, and workforce development initiatives.

“Our team transformed a traditional cluster analysis into an industry cluster business attraction strategy and virtual meeting resource that made industry data trends easily consumable,” said Vice President of Business Intelligence and Research, Angela Ladetto, for the Detroit Regional Partnership. “While created to help inspire growth in the 11-county Detroit Region throughout the pandemic, these tools are also adaptable for future trends and can be used by our partners other economic development organizations moving forward.”

DRP identified seven industry clusters and 22 subclusters in the Detroit Region that guide the cluster strategy. The DRP Business Intelligence & Research team then built out the narrative and emotional connection for each industry cluster based on the qualitative analysis and ecosystem feedback.

The return on this innovative project includes:

    • 20,000+ views generated to the seven story maps and business cases as of April 2021.
    • 2,000+ meetings business development presented the cluster content to clients.
    • 98% of DRP projects won in 2020 were in one of the industry clusters and sub clusters.
    • 194+ data-driven pages of content in the seven industry cluster business cases.

“This is truly excellent work in telling the Southeast Michigan manufacturing story. DRP should be very proud of what has been accomplished. Automation Alley stands ready to tell this story far and wide,” said Executive Director and CEO, Tom Kelly of Automation Alley.

The industry cluster interactive story maps include: videos, interactive dashboards and maps, and a downloadable business case PDF. All seven clusters were launched in 2020, each with a custom marketing and business development campaign, including targeted email blasts, an on-going social media effort, blog posts and analytics tracking.