Smart Incentives analyzes incentive offerings and program designs.

Ellen D. Harpel , Ph. D.

Ellen Harpel is the founder of Smart Incentives, which helps communities make sound decisions throughout the economic development incentives process. She is also president of Business Development Advisors LLC (BDA), an economic development and market intelligence consulting firm in Arlington, VA. Smart Incentives serves governments and economic development organizations. Our focus is ensuring that incentives support community objectives and help places grow in the way their residents desire. Smart Incentives is also at the forefront of efforts to develop more robust processes for monitoring compliance and evaluating the effectiveness of incentive programs.

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


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

Years In Business

Years of Experience

Active Partners

Workshops & Presentations

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