The future of BR&E: Data tools for direct impact – and the future of economic development. With Anatalio Ubalde, CEO, SizeUP

Talking to Anatalio Ubalde of SizeUp and GISPlanning is like taking a master class in the future of economic development.  No one, in my experience, has a better command of how modern data systems change — and should change — how economic development is done.  Anyone trying to figure out how to adapt the work of economic development to a fast-changing world should be listening closely to him.  The guy knows his stuff.

Anatalio combined his deep understanding of emerging information technology with his background as an economic development professional, which included stints in Business Recruitment and Retention (BR&E) and Main Street programs, to develop a unique understanding of what existing local businesses struggle with, and how economic development professionals can change their role to provide a direct benefit to local businesses — one that traditional models don’t allow because they depend on outdated staff and information assumptions.  

In this conversation, Anatalio and I dig into the structural failures of conventional BR&E approaches — failures that have appeared in an unforgiving spotlight due to the pandemic and its disproportionate impact on the small and independent businesses that BR&E is supposed to help.  And we examine how new approaches to the relationship between economic development and small business can overcome those failures and give both business and economic developer the tools to make both more successful.  And data gathering and sharing tools like SizeUp provide a crucial tool for doing that.

In his video edit of the interview, Anatalio also gives us a backstage view of the life of a economic development entrepreneur today, where you adapt or die.  As you will see…there’s a few times when I thought he was going to do both.   Watch to the end for one of the craziest set-ups I’ve encountered in 35 years of interviewing!

You can read much of Anatalio’s writing on the topic by searching his name, Anatalio Ubalde, on LinkedIn.  You can also read SizeUp’s recent white paper on how the pandemic is changing economic development in real time.  And sign up for a demo of the SizeUp platform to get a glimpse of how it can transform your community.

You can watch Anatalio’s edit of the interview here, or you can listen to it here. You can also pick up the audio via the Building a Wise Local Economy podcast on Stitcher or Spotify.

And if you need a version that you can share with particularly buttoned-up leadership, the original video edit might be useful (but less fun).




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