LAWG Week: Matt Feldmann on Illinois as the “Local Area”

Hello, I am Matt Feldmann, the principal researcher and owner of Goshen Education Consulting, Inc. and a member of the Local Area Working Group. My company focuses on educational evaluation and data support for clients in Illinois, which also happens to include Chicago. J While I live about 4.5 hours south of Chicago, I am still a member of the Chicagoland Evaluation Association (CEA) because of my state-wide projects that often include Chicago Public Schools and districts in the suburbs of the city. Illinois is my home and the focus of my niche practice, a topic of a previous AEA365 post from October 2012. This post expands this on my experiences as a regional evaluator and ideas for how to continue to develop your evaluation practice.

Lesson Learned:

Focused geographical networking. I don’t readily take on contracts outside of my service area of Illinois…and I generally prefer projects in Southwestern Illinois. The goodwill created by my good work is more likely to result in new business when I focus my efforts on a distinct group of educational leaders who know each other.

“Hit ‘em where they ain’t.” This baseball quote attributed to Willie Keeler was Sam Walton’s strategy when he started Walmart. While Illinois is my broad service area, I am very focused on serving Southwestern Illinois, a community that is underserved by dedicated educational evaluators and that has more than $2 billion in annual educational expenditures.

Get involved with your local affiliate (or start your own). Your local affiliate is the best resource for regular professional development, opportunities for partnerships, and (importantly) competitive intelligence. Through regular interaction with the Evaluation Association of St. Louis (EASL) and occasional programs with the Chicagoland Evaluation Association I have a wonderful understanding for my place in the local educational evaluation community. These professional colleagues have been instrumental in developing my regional strategy. For instance I won’t readily pursue projects in St. Louis or Chicago where there is more competition and I am not as familiar with the educational leaders. 

Hot Tip: If you are focused on an underserved community of tightly networked potential clients that you intimately understand your growth may only be limited to your availability, marketing approaches, and the creativity for types of projects that best utilize your skill set.

We’re looking forward to November and the Evaluation 2015 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to

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