About us

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.

Click here to learn more about Ellen

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.

Click here to learn more about Darrene

Our Partners

Each project team is built around client needs. BDA draws on a wide range of partners, representing the best in the business. We all share a commitment to quality, creative problem solving, and results.

Artemel & Associates
Artemel & Associates focuses on market and feasibility studies, sustainable land use development, and management of economic development organization. Agnès Artemel is President of Artemel & Associates Inc. Her specialties are market analysis, feasibility studies, urban revitalization, and transit-oriented development, frequently applied in urban areas.
Visit Artemel & Associates website.

Center for Regional Analysis
The Center for Regional Analysis (CRA) is the premier source for knowledge and information about Greater Washington. CRA conducts research and analytical studies on economic, fiscal, demographic, housing, social, and policy issues. The Center’s activities strengthen decision-making by businesses, governments, and institutions throughout the region.
Visit Center for Regional Analysis website

Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness
The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) is an independent not-for-profit organization founded to provide policy-makers from around the world with the information and technical assistance they need to formulate and execute upon innovative, regional, job-creating economic strategies.
Visit Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness website

Council of Development Finance Agencies
The Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) is a national association dedicated to the advancement of development finance concerns and interests. CDFA is comprised of the nation’s leading and most knowledgeable members of the development finance community.
Visit Council of Development Finance Agencies website

ICMA Center for Sustainable Communities
ICMA’s Center for Sustainable Communities provides knowledge resources and technical assistance on leading practices at the intersection of sustainability and local government management.
Visit ICMA Center for Sustainable Communities website

Mercer Associates
Mercer Associates is a Washington, D.C.-based consultancy that specializes in providing market intelligence and trade and investment promotion services. John Mercer is founder and president of Mercer Associates LLC. John’s experience includes serving for three years as part of a core team based in the United States to promote economic development and investment in the Canton of Geneva, Switzerland. Mercer Associates has also represented New Zealand Trade and Enterprise in the United States.
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TIP Strategies
TIP Strategies works with communities throughout the country to develop innovative, publicly supported economic development strategies. Putting “theory into practice,” TIP Strategies has produced numerous strategic plans, economic assessments, economic base analyses, workforce studies, and target sector analyses.
Visit TIP Strategies website