FREEPORT — When Courtland Holman researched the Freeport Economic Development Corp. before becoming its executive director, he had a hard time. There was no website to provide the information he was seeking.

Developing a website was one of Holman’s top priorities since starting with the corporation in May, and went live late last month, he said.

“This is the first time that the Freeport EDC has had an independent website,” Holman said. “There was no online presence, so this is a massive improvement.”

It is almost unheard of for an economic development corporation to not have a website, City Manager Tim Kelty said.

The economic development board approved hiring CivicPlus to design the website, which took two or three months to complete, Holman said.

One of the biggest features is a property locator that is “extremely vital” and robust, he said.

It will allow brokers to put information on the website and market their property; interested buyers will be able to see demographics, qualifications and enough information to ask only the pertinent questions when they call, Holman said.

Both sides can be done from anywhere, he said.

“I’m not just looking for local businesses,” Holman said.

As Freeport works to improve how it markets itself, it needs a website to point people to, Kelty said.

“If we want to make this city successful from the standpoint of economic development,” he said, “that is just a tool that is absolutely critical.”

The website is one tool the corporation will use to market itself along with conferences, magazine articles and networking, Holman said.

“Freeport is a diamond in the rough,” Holman said. “I wouldn’t have come here if I didn’t think I could make a substantial improvement to the community.”

Holman is a professional certified community economic developer, he said, adding it would take him or anyone else about a decade to get the housing and mixed-used development he envisions downtown and on the corridors of Gulf Boulevard and Highway 288, which need substantial restructuring.

But he has plans to attract that development, some of which involves attending International Council of Shopping Centers conferences, he said. That is a good place to mingle with developers, who already have relationships with retailers, Holman said.

But most things are done online this day and age, Kelty said. Now when people are researching Freeport, they’ll have a better place to start from an economic development standpoint, he said.

“I’m really excited that this is rolling out, and I’ve been a big supporter of it,” Kelty said.

Website launches often come with holes and errors, and Holman wants to know about those, he said. Critique and information requests are welcomed from everyone, Holman said.

Maddy McCarty is a reporter for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0151.

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