November 18, 2019

How ERM uses CurateLOCAL to manage reputational risk for energy clients

Oil refinery plant at night

Most businesses invest a lot of time and money in protecting themselves from a variety of risks — whether by creating policies around data security, enforcing the use of personal safety equipment, or providing a top-of-the-line health insurance.

One type of risk that is often overlooked is reputational risk. But the strength of your reputation can open doors and pave roads for your business, and a good reputation can be hard to restore after a breach of trust.

No one knows this better than ERM, a global environmental, health and safety, and sustainability consulting firm with a large North American presence, whose clients include several types of energy companies that operate in hundreds of communities.

Ryan Earp, a senior public affairs consultant for ERM, says the key to proactively managing clients’ reputations throughout their service areas is to develop relationships with the wide variety of stakeholders in each community, including property owners, residents, local government officials, and first responders.

“The political environment is such that being able to build relationships with stakeholders and proactively communicate information is crucial to minimize potential risk or project delays,” Earp says.

Since his team can’t physically show up to every municipal government meeting in every community that ERM’s clients operate in, they rely on minutes and agendas to stay on top of mentions of their clients and to track discussions that can turn into regulations that may impact their ability to do business.

“Being able to monitor minutes and agendas can help us get better insight into what’s happening at the local level,” Earp says. “Sometimes local resolutions are brought forward by outside groups, and being able to identify those early on can help clients engage the local government officials and get them the information they need regarding a resolution.”

Before ERM discovered CurateLOCAL, they were tracking these discussions manually.

“It was a laborious process,” Earp says. “Depending on the scale of the project, It could take a range of 10 to 25 hours a month for one client.”

Earp says his company had to pick and choose which communities to track among the hundreds their clients operated in. Once they started using CurateLOCAL, they were able to expand their coverage area. Almost immediately, they caught a resolution from a special interest energy group in a community they hadn’t previously tracked that would have impacted their client’s operations.

The client was then able to reach out to that special interest group and meet with them to discuss their concerns, Earp says.

“Lobbyists have been doing bill monitoring forever,” Earp says. “This is that same idea, but microtargeting it to have a better understanding of something that’s always changing. It’s useful for any entity to minimize risk or reputational harm.”

CurateLOCAL uses a blend of artificial and human intelligence to help companies like ERM save dozens of hours each month while expanding its capacity to monitor local government discussions. To learn what critical issues you could be tracking at the local government level with CurateLOCAL, read our white paper about finding business intelligence in local government documents.

November 04, 2019

How Michigan REALTORS® finds critical business intelligence in municipal government minutes and agendas


Michigan REALTORS® uses CurateLOCAL to track discussions about short-term rentals throughout the state.

There are many local government decisions that can impact residential real estate agents and private property rights, but one of the hottest topics across the country right now is short-term rental regulations. Many homeowners are using Airbnb and other home-sharing platforms to cover the cost of mortgages and property taxes, and some entrepreneurs have built entire businesses out of investing in homes and renting them through Airbnb. 

Many states and local governments are currently engaged in the short-term rental discussion, and the use of CurateLocal has allowed private property rights advocates and supporters of short-term rental arrangements to quickly identify when and where those discussions are occurring. Further, it has allowed advocates to be at the table proactively rather than reactively. 

A 2017 study on the responses of cities in the U.S. and Europe to Airbnb’s growth found that most cities are relatively lenient towards Airbnb and its competitors. When they do place restrictions, they tend to limit the number of guests, nights and times a property can be rented, demand certain safety precautions and information provision, or require the person listing the home to reside there most of the year. These restrictions aim to mitigate some of the potential negative impacts that short-term rentals can have on neighborhoods, such as excessive noise, parking shortages, and reduced housing availability and affordability. 

One of the goals of REALTORS® associations across the country is to increase member involvement in the political process and to work to protect private property rights. To do this, they need to keep a close eye on legislative discussions and regulations at both the state and local level. Many associations cover large geographical areas, or, like the Michigan REATLORS®, they cover an entire state, working cooperatively with various local REALTORS® associations, so they need to pay attention to several hundred communities. 

This past year, Michigan REALTORS® used CurateLOCAL to identify over 15 (and growing) short-term rental proposals around the state. These proposals ranged from lakeshore communities seeking to implement a regulatory structure for short-term rentals, larger metropolitan areas seeing to place a cap on licenses, all the way to total bans based on the theory of commercial activity in a residential zone. In every instance, the association and its local counterparts were able to engage in the conversation in a meaningful way, instead of playing defense on ordinances that have already been passed or nearly finalized. 

Michigan REALTORS® sees significant value in tracking discussions about short-term rentals throughout the state using CurateLOCAL. Identifying and combating proposals that could have a negative impact on private property rights fits in with Michigan REALTORS’® core mission. The foreknowledge through CurateLOCAL provides for better preparation and advocacy, ensuring that talking points, position papers, and an organized grassroots base are ready to be presented at each respective local meeting. 

Read our latest white paper to learn more about what critical issues you could be tracking at the local government level with CurateLOCAL, and how you could harness artificial intelligence to make sure you never miss out on crucial business intelligence. 

October 31, 2019

Curate is now live in all 50 states!

A letter from our CEO and co-founder, Taralinda Willis.


I’m thrilled to announce that Curate has expanded to cover all 50 U.S. states. Expanding our geographic footprint has been a huge push over the last few months, and our hard work has now paved the way for us to welcome hundreds of new customers across the country.

In celebration of this major milestone, Dale and I took a two-week trip to Prague. It was a way to balance our two passions: travel and all things Curate. We rented an Airbnb and found a nearby co-working space to spend some time planning for Curate’s future without the distractions of our lives at home.

With no more geographical expansions on the horizon in the immediate future, it’s now time to define our next phase of growth.

We’re already the country’s most comprehensive database for local government data. But, we're ready to take our product to the next level.

Dale and I are taking this time to dream big about what this company looks like in the next year and the year after, and focusing on what the marketing strategy looks like to get us there. We’re making some key decisions about where we will put our time and energy in the next three, six, and 12 months.

We know that our growth will always be focused on local data.

In my conversations with our advisors over the last few months, my biggest takeaway has been the importance of local data. So much already happens at local governments, and as the level of dysfunction in our state and national governments seems to get worse every day, we expect that the impact of local-government decisions on business operations will only increase.

Our customers love the ability to keep track of discussions and decisions at the local-government level, but they are only scratching the surface of what’s possible with the data we are collecting. So, how do we help them get the most out of Curate?

One of our challenges going forward will be to help our customers maximize the tool we’re building for them. As we add functions to the database, we will leverage the input from our new customer success team to make sure we’re building what our customers need most.

We’ve made some really strategic hires since my last update. In addition to our customer success advocate, we’ve added a product manager to help us get organized. We’ve also added another kickass developer who is helping us push the envelope of what's possible in AI, making our search results both more comprehensive and more accurate.

Every day I’m more convinced that local government data is the future of lobbying, business development, and advocacy. I’m excited to lead the movement in making this data more accessible. We’re doing something no one else has been able to do, and we do it really well.



August 01, 2019

Where construction was hot in Q2


Building X Q2 2019
Download our latest heat maps to see where construction was hot from April to June 2019 for private, commercial, housing, industrial and manufacturing, and education construction projects in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Chicagoland.

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