Ellen D. Harpel, Ph.D.

Ellen Harpel is the founder and president of Business Development Advisors LLC (BDA), an economic development and market intelligence consulting firm. Ellen is also the founder of Smart Incentives (www.smartincentives.org), which helps communities make sound decisions throughout the economic development incentives process.

Darrene L. Hackler, Ph.D.

Dr. Hackler is an advisor to Smart Incentives and Business Development Advisors. Located in Sacramento, CA, she focuses on incentive policy and use on the west coast, as well as sustainability policies for economic development and innovation, technology and entrepreneurship across the US.

Ellen D. Harpel, Ph.D.

Ellen founded Business Development Advisors in 1999 to work with economic development leaders at the local, state and national levels to increase business investment and job growth in their communities. She launched Smart Incentives in 2013. 

Prior to founding BDA, Ellen was a manager with the professional services firm Deloitte & Touche, where she advised economic development organizations on business attraction, growth and retention strategies through the Fantus Consulting division. She also served as an Associate with Charles Percy & Associates, an international business advisory firm in Washington, DC. She has also worked with the US Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Home Builders. Through these experiences Ellen gained a broad knowledge of the economic and market factors that drive growth and development in businesses and communities. 

Ellen is a Senior Research Fellow with the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness and an affiliate with the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University. She serves on the Alexandria Arlington Regional Workforce Council and is on the board of GMU's Gender and Policy Center. 

EDUCATION

PhD Regional Economics, Public Policy | George Mason University

Master of Business Administration | University of North Carolina, KenanFlagler Business School

Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service | Georgetown University

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE

Franklin County Economic Development and Planning

Department Economic Development Strategic Plan.

Franklin County, Ohio

 

Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Michigan Business Development Program

Effectiveness Study

Lansing, MI

 

City of Kansas City, Missouri Kansas City Incentives

Study (with CDFA)

Kansas City, MO

 

Invest Atlanta External Review of Incentives

Atlanta, GA

 

Economic Development Alliance Competitive

Economic Development Incentives Analysis

Jefferson County, AR

 

The Pew Charitable Trusts and CREC Business

Incentives Initiative

Washington, DC

 

Maryland Department of Commerce Economic

Development Incentives and Financing Study (with

CREC)

Baltimore, MD

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

Management Review and Recommendations

(with CREC)

Madison, WI

 

Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development Economic

Development Strategic Plan (with CREC)

Salt Lake City, UT

 

The 2030 Group Roadmap for the Washington (DC) Region’s

Economic Future

Washington, DC Region

 

Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission

Advancing Opportunity in Somerset County, PA (with EntreWorks)

Somerset, PA

 

Montgomery County, MD Comprehensive Economic Strategy (with

TIP Strategies)

Rockville, MD

 

Stephen S. Fuller Institute, George Mason University

Changing Nature of Work Series: Gig and Independent Work

Arlington, VA

Incentive Training and Workshops

 

I. Investment Incentives and Sustainable Investments

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment.

 

II. Intro Incentives Course

Council of Development Finance Agencies.

 

III. Tax Incentives and Economic Development Policy

National Association of County Collectors, Treasurers and

Finance Officers

 
 

Darrene L. Hackler, Ph.D.

Darrene is consultant and senior advisor to Smart Incentives.

Darrene brings particular economic development expertise in economic equity and inclusive growth, entrepreneurship, innovation, and sustainability. She assists local and regional government officials, as well as large and small economic development and non-profit organizations with their grassroots efforts, strategic plans, incentives analysis, and technical assistance. She works with a variety of stakeholders, including universities, think

tanks, foundations, governments and funding agencies to build partnerships that can

strengthen local economic development ecosystems.

She has served as an Executive Director at the University of California, Davis’ Office of Research, the Vice President of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), a Senior Fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), and an associate professor at George Mason University.

EDUCATION

PhD Political Science and Economics | Claremont Graduate University

Master of Arts in Public Policy | Claremont Graduate University

Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics | College of Idaho

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE

Franklin County Economic Development and Planning DepartmentEconomic Development Strategic Plan

Franklin County, Ohio

 

City of Sacramento

I. Project Prosper: Strategic Stakeholder and Community

Engagement

II. Project Prosper: Neighborhood Economic and Community

Development Strategy Sacramento Now Economic Action Agenda

Sacramento, California

 

Greater Sacramento Economic Council Inclusive and Equitable Economic Development Performance Metrics

Sacramento, California

 

Center of Excellence, Northern California, California Community Colleges and Los Rios District.

Strategic consulting and analysis on projects, industry cluster,

regional workforce, Economic Development Administration CEDS.

Sacramento, California

Arlington County Economic Development and Commission

Economic Sustainability,

Resiliency, Competitiveness, and Innovation Assessment

Arlington County, Virginia

 

Orange County Business Council Information and Communication

Technology Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy

Orange County, California

 

Smart Incentives

I. Kansas City Enhanced Enterprise Zones Review

II. Michigan Economic Development Business Incentive Analysis

III. Pine Bluff, Arkansas Downtown Revitalization

Arlington, Virginia