As I was driving into work today I heard a story on NPR (KERA) about how Farmers Branch, TX is promoting their Buy the Branch program to help keep taxes low. One of the gentleman they interviewed talked about how they are developing a retail database of all the Farmer’s Branch retail services available. First, I was surprised that this database didn’t already exist. Wouldn’t the Chamber of Commerce have a pretty comprehensive list already? Second, I wanted to let them know there are many online and mobile applications that already provide this type of information.
It’s no shocker that city governments across the US are facing a shortfall in taxes due to the economy and other demographic changes. All of this had me thinking about the power of mobile location-based applications for this type of initiative.
There are numerous location-based applications such as Gowalla, Foursquare, AroundMe, Yelp, etc., that offer the ability to find nearby restaurants, retail and services. However, what if there was an iPhone or Blackberry application for your city. As a resident of Plano, I would definitely want to ensure my taxes do not go up and would be willing to leverage an application that only showed Plano retailers, restaurants and services. What if the application also featured information about city services as well.
If I was an enterprising web or PR agency, I would partner with the City and Chamber of Commerce to build such an application for free as long as I could put my name on it and showcase my services. Of course, the city would be made responsible to maintain the database. Or what if I was a local Plano publication such as Plano Profile or the Dallas Morning News local version NeighborsGo who funded this based on the ability to feature advertisements. Talk about advertising at point of conversion! The City of Plano is losing revenue to new developments in Allen, Frisco and McKinney. Make it easy for residents to keep their dollars local.
There are tons of ideas around this concept. What are your thoughts on this?