The Council for Community and Economic Research

The 51st C2ER Annual Conference

June 6-10, 2011

Conference Main    |    Agenda    |    Presentations    |    Community & Economic Research Awards

C2ER Recognizes Excellence in Economic Development Research

On June 9, 2011 economic development professionals from across the U.S. assembled at C2ER's annual conference in San Francisco CA to recognize excellence in economic development research work done by their peers.

The C2ER awards program recognizes the contribution of research activities to the success of local, regional, or state/provincial economic development initiatives. The purpose of the award is to increase the quality of economic development research by identifying meritorious projects and promoting the diffusion of creative ideas for research activities.

Projects could be submitted for evaluation in the following categories of research activity:

  • Projects that support business development activities
  • Data collection/dissemination efforts, including web-based systems
  • Policy Analysis
  • Project impact/program evaluation or assessment
  • Projects that support collaborative community/regional initiatives

The projects were judged on their contributions to the economic development research field, innovativeness in approach, implementation or collaborative efforts, responsiveness to customer needs, and benefits resulting from project implementation. The seven highest scored projects were chosen out of 15 submissions.

Research projects recognized for "Outstanding Achievement" include:

Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc. (CERC):
CERC Dashboards Interactive Web-based Tool

In Recognition of Excellence in Data Collection/ Dissemination Efforts, including Web-based systems:

The Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc. (CERC) created an interactive, web-based tool known as The CERC Dashboards, which provides a unique and critical perspective on Connecticut's competitive performance. The graphics presented in the Dashboards use both well-established and newly developed and compiled measures to benchmark the state's current conditions and its growth in a number of critical categories, including:

  • Business Vitality
  • Government
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Urban Vitality
  • Workforce/Education

This product depicts different data items shown on the same web page that highlight interactions among variables. The graphics quickly present general trends as well as highlight recent critical changes. It also shows different presentations of the same data to provide a clearer understanding of the issues.

Combining CERC's Dashboard data with Monster's Employment Index for Connecticut gives readers a first-hand account about attitudes of employers with respect to their willingness to hire. No other organization in the state is doing this. CERC partners with in analyzing their tremendous database of job postings and Employment Index for Connecticut, New England and the U.S. Each month, provides updated indices that CERC will post on its Monster Employment Index Dashboard. The monthly data is currently available online from January 2008 to February 2011.

This data is extremely helpful in helping policy makers, business leaders and economic development professionals have a better understanding about the feelings of the employers and whether they are ready to hire workers. In essence, the data is a predecessor for what will be seen in the employment figures published by the Connecticut Department of Labor because job postings come before the job offers.

Indy Partnership:
2011 Labor Study

In Recognition of Excellence in Support for Business Development:

In the fourth quarter of 2010, the Indy Partnership Research and Information Department conceived of, outlined, researched, and executed a 26-page, comprehensive regional labor study. This project—the first of its kind for both the Indianapolis region and the state of Indiana—analyzed six key components of the region's labor pool:

  • Population—changes in total population, age, diversity, poverty rates, and cost of living
  • Labor force—commuters, labor participation, and minority composition
  • Labor cost—median wages, desired wages, and key business tax rates
  • Employment—peak and trough employment, employment by industry and occupation, and key location quotients
  • Unemployment and underemployment—comparative 18-month MSA unemployment rates, extrapolated for each MSA and labor shed
  • Workforce quality—productivity in the form of GDP and GDP per employee, creative workers, and education enrollment and attainment

All research was done in-house using 17 sources of publicly available data from ten nonprofit organizations and government agencies.

Contribution to Economic Development
The 2011 Labor Study supports regional leaders and policymakers in their strategic efforts to determine areas of economic strength and opportunity for the region. For example, knowledge of the region's employment location quotients provides direction for targeting industries and aids in resource allocation decisions.

The study was designed to be factual and informative but also to present a case for relocating to or expanding in the region. Several of the facts presented are not well known or understood, such as the region's low poverty rate combined with affordable wages, rates of worker productivity, or its high concentration of specialized employment in areas like aircraft components manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and health and insurance services.

Use in Other Communities
The project required a significant initial time commitment, an in-depth understanding of the most beneficial and frequently requested information, and an ability to creatively analyze labor-related data. Discounting time and opportunity costs, however, Indy Partnership's 2011 Labor Study proves that a study of this magnitude can be completed relatively affordably and can be tailored to each region's needs.

Other economic development organizations can access the 2011 Labor Study on Indy Partnership's website and utilize Indy Partnership's work as a benchmark for their own efforts.

Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC)
Economic Analysis of Casino Applicants for Missouri's Gaming License

In Recognition of Excellence in Project Impact Analysis/ Program Evaluation or Assessment:

The state of Missouri is, by law, limited to 13 riverboat casinos. These casinos are regulated by the Missouri Gaming Commission (MGC) which provides oversight and must approve new casinos when an existing operator closes down.

In the summer of 2010, the President Casino in downtown St. Louis ceased operations, freeing up a casino license in Missouri. The MGC understood the critical decision it would face in awarding the available license to only one of the many quality proposals the commission would receive during this process. Knowing the importance of the task ahead, the MGC took early steps to analyze the situation and engaged the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC), the research arm of the state's Department of Economic Development, to assist the commission with the economic implications.

While the MGC has to explore many issues in the awarding of a license, such as the applicant's financial strength, the economic impact to Missouri is certainly of vital interest to the commission. Apart from the taxes directly generated by the casino that go to services such as education, the operation of the facility will directly employ hundreds of workers that, together with the casino, support other sectors of the economy with their wages. The MGC also understands how important this decision is to the applicant communities and existing casinos that will be impacted in various ways by the location of the new gaming facility.

This report examines the current casino operators and markets, the license applicants, and the economic impacts associated with a variety of scenarios to provide the commission with a broad understanding of the economic issues. The analysis serves as one measure for MGC consideration as it makes the important decision to award the state's one remaining casino license.

The three casino applicants for Missouri's thirteenth license were analyzed with regards to overall economic impact, gaming/admissions tax impact, and community context. Three estimates were used to evaluate how the impacts would change given worst, average, and best case scenarios.

Edward Lowe Foundation
Edward Lowe Foundation's YE+

In Recognition of Excellence in Data Collection and Dissemination Efforts:

The Edward Lowe Foundation has created a unique subscription service, YE+, for YE+ is an online research tool that makes it easier for economic development professionals to track business performance and job creation over time.

Launched in 2010, YE+ subscribers are able to:

  • Create and save customized regions by state, MSA, county and ZIP code, making it easier to compare regions and time periods.
  • Refine regions even further by isolating activity of establishments within specific industries via two-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes.
  • Download customized data from the YE+ website into a spreadsheet for further analysis.
  • Purchase individual company contact information from Dun & Bradstreet (D&B), which includes the company's six-digit NAICS code.
  • View summaries of data in dynamic charts.

In upcoming months, YE+ will be adding a number of new features, including:

  • Tracking companies by age.
  • Location quotient.
  • Isolating the job growth of relocated companies after they move to a different state.
  • View and sort D&B contacts by three- and four-digit NAICS codes with establishment and job totals for selected region before buying.

The website and its subscription service also benefit policymakers and journalists by giving them a new way to look at business communities and job creation.

As the foundation developed the public YE website, it worked with economic-development professionals from around the country to find out what data was most important to them and how they use it. Although YE provides detailed statistics at the national, state, MSA and county level, many users wanted to obtain data at the ZIP code level. They also wanted to be able to build and compare customized regions and obtain company contact information — which was the impetus for creating YE+.

Innovative approach and implementation
Because YE and YE+ statistics are derived from a longitudinal dataset, (the National Establishment Times Series), they depict a dynamic journey of how business communities are evolving through time. This is a sharp contrast to other data sources that focus on a static moment. Other hallmarks are:

New metrics: By using establishment-level data instead of firm data, the Edward Lowe Foundation has created new categories for examining business activity and job creation. For example, YE and YE+ sort statistics into three employer categories (resident, nonresident and noncommercial establishments). Then, resident establishments (those headquartered within the state) are subdivided into four stages that reflect different operational and management issues companies face as they grow larger.

These new metrics provide new insights. For example, YE shows that resident establishments have far more influence on jobs than establishments headquartered outside of the state. Visitors can compare current and historical data to identify key trends and changes in their regions. YE not only looks at what growth occurred, it also identifies who was responsible for growth.

Elegant interface: YE and YE+ are easy to navigate and feature dynamic charts and graphs that are easy to understand.

Speed: YE and YE+ sifts through statistics on more than 41 million establishments and delivers results to queries in seconds.

Timeliness: Each year a new dataset is added to YE and YE+ to reflect the most recent year that is available from NETS. Also, updates are made to existing datasets throughout the year.

Accessibility: A mobile device application, "YourEconomy In Your Pocket," enables mobile device users to access YE data. The platform is designed especially for the Safari mobile browser used on iPhones, but works for any mobile device with an Internet browser. This platform also benefits people who may be using older Web browsers.

If you have any questions on YE or YE+, you can contact T.J. Becker or Gregg Cole.

Greater Akron Chamber
The Summit Business Partnership Program

In Recognition of Excellence in Supporting Collaborative Community/Regional Initiatives:

The Summit Business Partnership is a retention and expansion program administered by both the Summit County Department of Community & Economic Development and the Greater Akron Chamber. The Summit Business Partnership was launched during the third quarter of 2003, and during first quarter 2011, reached a new milestone by conducting its 2,000th business visitation. Over the past seven years, the program has effectively brought the public and private sectors together in order to promote economic development by working with those companies already located in Summit County, Ohio. The Summit Business Partnership is a business friendly program that acts as a "one-stop shop" to assist local companies with their economic development and research needs. The mission of the Summit Business Partnership is to satisfy, retain and grow those companies creating employment, opportunity and wealth in Summit County.

The program is a systematic delivery system for economic and community development that is modeled after proven private sector customer satisfaction programs. The Summit Business Partnership has partnered with ExecutivePulse of Erie, Pennsylvania on all aspects of the program; company contact, database, intranet site, training and questionnaire.

Managed by the Summit Business Partnership program, the economic development team handles all database administration, trains outreach professionals that administer the survey and conducts the meetings, analyzes and reports on the data, and conducts company research. Although each meeting is confidential, much of the data is analyzed and used for identifying trends and areas of concern, reporting of information for research reports and Chamber publications and used for determining customer opportunities. All Greater Akron Chamber economic development staff handle research and service requests for companies participating in the program. The Greater Akron Chamber also works closely with ExecutivePulse to make upgrades to the program and database as needed. As the Greater Akron Chamber expands the program to Medina and Portage Counties, the Greater Akron Chamber is actively working to review the survey tools and make upgrades to the program.

One of the key features of the Summit Business Partnership is that it is both replicable and transferable. The Greater Akron Chamber has worked with ExecutivePulse to expand the program to Medina County where visitations have begun and will expand the program to Portage County in the second quarter of 2011. The Summit Business Partnership is essentially a "template" that can be replicated in other jurisdictions. The Greater Akron Chamber is the lead organization with regard to working with ExecutivePulse, service providers and other political jurisdictions.