Want to back a development but can’t testify? This cottage industry makes it easy.

When JBG Smith Properties began planning Crystal City’s Central District, the developer wanted feedback from a broad segment of the community on the multifaceted project — not just the typical handful of citizens who have the time to testify at public hearings.

JBG Smith (NYSE: JBGS) Executive Vice President Andrew Van Horn said the company found a fix: Boston-based CoUrbanize, whose technology platform allows developers to gather feedback from community members via text, social media and comments posted in online forums.

“With a project of this scale and this much potential development, we really wanted to find new opportunities to access community members who couldn’t show up at board hearings and wait six hours to testify,” Van Horn said.

And it’s not just JBG Smith. A growing number of developers across the region are turning to startup companies like CoUrbanize and D.C.-based Imby Community to gather public support early in a project’s planning process and avoid costly delays…

Read the full story from the Washington Business Journal.

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