Economic Development: Using Data to Support Your Initiatives

From business recruitment to expansion and retention, data is playing an increasingly important role in economic development. Join Buxton and the city of Caribou, Maine, and learn how communities can benefit by using data to understand and prove potential.

In this webinar, you and your staff will discuss:

  • how to successfully apply data to the economic development process
  • case studies of how communities across the United States use data to support development initiatives in a variety of industries.

Cody Howell

Senior Vice President, Buxton

In his role as senior vice president, Cody leads Buxton’s account management team for all industries as well as the city government consulting division. He helps to build and maintain the partnerships with retail, restaurant, healthcare and city government clients ensuring they receive the guidance necessary to get the most from their custom analytics solutions. Cody also advises municipalities on retail economic development and planning initiatives, helping to shape growth strategies for client municipalities nationwide. Cody joined Buxton in 2011 as an account executive, working with numerous retail and restaurant clients. After much success in that role, he was promoted to vice president of the CommunityID division at Buxton. Prior to joining Buxton, Cody held leadership positions with Home Depot.

Austin Bleess

City Manager, City of Caribou, ME

Austin Bleess is the city manager for Caribou, Maine (population 8,137). Caribou is The Most Northeastern City in the United States. In his time at Caribou he has created a Community Revitalization Group that is made up of citizens want to help improve Caribou. He’s worked tirelessly to clean up slum and blight throughout the community, and utilizes grants whenever possible.

Austin plays a strong role in the economic development of Caribou by reaching out to businesses including local mom and pop stores and nationally known businesses. He led the efforts to bring Sitel Operating Corporation into Caribou, bringing 300 new jobs into the downtown with 200 more jobs expected.

He’s played a leading role in revitalizing Downtown Caribou. With the creation of Thursday’s On Sweden, a bi-weekly community event with live music, food vendors, games for kids, and more, he’s helped create a sense of place for citizens of Caribou and surrounding communities to enjoy.

Austin has worked on several community events including creating Craft Brew Fest, an annual craft beer tasting event in Winnebago, MN, and Heritage Days in Caribou.

He has worked on several grant applications and has received a $25,000 CDBG Grant to assist a local business expand to ship their blueberry products throughout New England, an AFG Grant from FEMA in the amount of $332,500 for the purchase of a new fire truck, and several other grants ranging from $500-$15,000 for various projects throughout the community.

Previous to his coming to Caribou, Austin was the city administrator in Winnebago, Minnesota which is his home state. There he helped secured a housing rehabilitation grant to fix up homes and businesses in Winnebago, low interest loans to upgrade the wastewater treatment facility and improve sewer infrastructure throughout the town.

Austin also has experience as community development director in Wells, Minnesota where he oversaw economic development, housing redevelopment, and planning and zoning.

Austin has his undergraduate degree in political science from Bethel University in St. Paul, MN and his master’s in public administration from Walden University in Minneapolis, MN. Austin and his wife Beth reside in Caribou with their one-year-old son and chocolate labs Trey and Jordan.

Eric Brown

Senior Account Executive, Buxton

As senior account executive in Buxton’s public sector division, Eric guides communities through the process of implementing and maximizing analytics. He is a helpful resource for communities across the United States, ensuring that they have the resources and training they need to achieve their retail economic development goals.

Before joining Buxton’s public sector division, Eric was an account executive in Buxton’s private sector division, assisting retail and healthcare clients with site assessment and marketing initiatives. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing from the University of Texas at Arlington.


Open to view video.
Open to view video. 90 minutes
1.50 ICMA CE credits  |  Certificate available
1.50 ICMA CE credits  |  Certificate available