Small business owners conflicted about where to put down roots have a new web tool at their disposal today with the launch of ZoomProspector. The site purports to match businesses with the cities that can best foster their growth.
The free service, which claims to possess the same compatability-determining power of Match.com, hopes to catch the eye of at least some of the estimated 750,000 businesses in the U.S. deciding where to locate or branch off each year — many of which don’t have the resources to run analysis on geography, demographics and culture before opening their doors. While this number will more than likely dip in the unfavorable economic climate, ZoomProspector cofounder and co-CEO Anatalio Ubaide says the site will become more essential to those businesses that can still afford a new location, but can’t afford to choose wrong.
“In a financial downturn mistakes can be unforgiving,” he says. “Being in the best location can be a meaningful differentiator between businesses that will succeed or fail in this economic recession.”
The site aggregates different kinds of data on cities, including labor force sizes, average education levels and commercial real estate prices, and then makes it available to users searching for cities that fit their specifications. For example, a company keen on setting up shop in a mid-size city on the west coast might find that Santa Barbara has the kind of facilities and consumer base it’s looking for.
Search results are rendered as pins on a Google map that you can then click on for more information — like the distance to local airports, the ratio of blue to white collar workers, median age and the amount of venture capital other businesses have received. Of course this data requires interpretation and doesn’t carry the same weight as an analyst who scouts locations professionally, but it will still be a bump up for small to medium-size business owners who may have otherwise spent weeks gathering the same intelligence.
ZoomProspector is an offshoot of San Francisco-based GIS Planning Inc., which has been developing geographic analysis technology since 1997. Right now, there’s really nothing like it out there in the field. The closest might be something like Zillow.com, which provides similiar information, particularly real estate prices, but to prospective homeowners.
GIS received no outside investment to make ZoomProspector possible.