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 (), 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.
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
Business Oregon Strategic Assessment of Incentives
State of Oklahoma Incentive Evaluation Commission
Oklahoma City, OK
Pew Charitable Trusts, Reflecting Community Priorities in Economic Development Practices
Franklin County Economic Development and Planning
Department Economic Development Strategic Plan.
Franklin County, OH
Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
Michigan Business Development Program
City of Kansas City, Missouri Kansas City Incentives
Study (with CDFA)
Kansas City, MO
Invest Atlanta External Review of Incentives
Economic Development Alliance Competitive
Economic Development Incentives Analysis
Jefferson County, AR
The Pew Charitable Trusts and CREC Business
Maryland Department of Commerce Economic
Development Incentives and Financing Study (with
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
Management Review and Recommendations
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
Washington, DC Region
Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission
Advancing Opportunity in Somerset County, PA (with EntreWorks)
Montgomery County, MD Comprehensive Economic Strategy (with
Stephen S. Fuller Institute, George Mason University
Changing Nature of Work Series: Gig and Independent Work
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. Designing and Managing Business Incentive
Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness
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.
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
Pew Charitable Trusts
Equitable Economic Development and Community Engagement
Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
Economic Development Incentives Analysis for Entrepreneurlal Firms
Kansas City, Missouri
The James Irvine Foundation
Strategic Policy and Grantmaking: Business and Workforce Development
San Francisco, California
Franklin County Economic Development and Planning DepartmentEconomic Development Strategic Plan
Franklin County, Ohio
City of Sacramento
I. Project Prosper: Strategic Stakeholder and Community
II. Project Prosper: Neighborhood Economic and Community
Development Strategy Sacramento Now Economic Action Agenda
Greater Sacramento Economic Council Inclusive and Equitable Economic Development Performance Metrics
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.
Arlington County Economic Development and Commission
Resiliency, Competitiveness, and Innovation Assessment
Arlington County, Virginia
Orange County Business Council Information and Communication
Technology Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy
Orange County, California
I. Kansas City Enhanced Enterprise Zones Review
II. Michigan Economic Development Business Incentive Analysis
III. Pine Bluff, Arkansas Downtown Revitalization