America’s Commerce Corps: Using Esri Technology to Strengthen Communities

In an era marked by rapidly evolving technology and shifting consumer preferences, promoting local businesses and fostering pride in our communities is more important than ever. The Esri-powered America’s Commerce Corps (ACC) program has embarked on a mission to revitalize local commerce by connecting consumers with local businesses, including mobile businesses such as food trucks. According to Tim Palmer, ACC program ambassador, ACC’s flagship application, Community Connection, or ComCon (, is changing the way communities engage with businesses in their vicinity.

“Imagine you’re flying in to a city for the first time and want to immerse yourself in the local scene and can immediately access truly local businesses and events,” Palmer said. “ComCon can help make that happen.”

Empowering Local Economies

The ACC program, founded on the belief that the heart of any community is its local businesses, helps boost local economies by promoting and supporting local businesses. To support this mission, Esri’s ArcGIS Experience Builder was used to create a dynamic platform that connects consumers with a variety of local businesses, from brick-and-mortar establishments to mobile businesses.

ComCon users can search for members (classified as Eats, Libations, Lodging, Salons, Services, and Shops) and partners (classified as Biz Champions, Bizs on the GO!, Happenings, and Community Banks) using the dynamic map or more traditional information profiles. The only requirement for a local business to be on ComCon is that it must be a member of a local chamber of commerce, Main Street America Program, or another local business association.

A screenshot entitled Growing Local by Showing Local shows a list of Member and Partner types behind a hand holding a mobile phone with ComCon on the screen.
The ability to easily customize ComCon desktop and mobile versions was critical to help get information out to consumers regardless of device platform.

Founded in 2014 and reimagined during the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, the ACC program started with web-based mapping applications that showed active members of these organizations and details such as if they were open, had restricted hours, or offered curbside pickup only. As local business organizations soon saw the power of mapping applications, they saw the value of consumers easily accessing local information about businesses and events via a QR Code.

One such local business association was the Bel Air Downtown Alliance, an accredited Main Street America organization in Bel Air, Maryland, led by executive director Jenny Erhard.

“I wanted a way to promote our downtown businesses by informing and attracting consumers through a digital, mobile marketing tool,” Erhard said. “Traditionally, we’ve used brochures and stationary map kiosks to show visitors the businesses in downtown Bel Air.” With ComCon, she said, “visitors scan the provided QR Code with their phone and are taken directly to our downtown map.”

A kiosk map entitled Downtown Bel Air shows a downtown map with QR codes.
QR Codes are now used on downtown map kiosks, saving time and money on updating paper maps with new business and event information.

ComCon is an immersive, interactive application that seamlessly connects consumers with local businesses and provides a one-stop shop for residents and visitors to discover, interact with, and support them. Esri technologies helped in the following ways:

A screenshot shows a map of the greater Baltimore-Washington area of the United States and ACC Member types in the area.
ArcGIS Experience Builder has no-code/low-code capabilities that allow for quick implementation.

According to Palmer, “These key elements were all made possible because of Experience Builder. Building a compelling web application without writing code was not only made possible, but it allowed for a robust web experience that helped fuel ACC’s mission without having to hire developers.”