Course Introduction: Overview, Format, and Objectives
Laying a Foundation for Economic Modeling
Methods for Researching the Competitive Strengths of a Region
Workforce and Growth: Using Data to Tell Your Region's Labor Market Story
Mapping Industry Clusters, Analyzing Interdependencies, and Identifying Targets
Tools for Evaluating and Communicating Economic and Fiscal Impacts

Analyzing and Mapping a Region’s Industry “Clusters” (VIDEO)

Video Summary:

Mark White, Associate Extension Professor, at the University of Missouri, establishes a foundation for the more in-depth discussions of the cluster concept that follow. The cluster concept has had important consequences for the practice of economic development because it implies that industry clusters are the principal engines of economic growth and innovation. Consequently, economic development strategies should focus on building, nurturing, and expanding these clusters.. Moreover, the concept implies that these clusters are regional in nature, so that the region is the geographic scale at which these actions should take place.

  • What does the cluster consensus mean for you as the applied researcher? It often means that your role is to identify and measure the scope and scale of your region’s industry clusters.
  • This type of research can focus and direct your region’s current and future economic development strategies
  • This may involve strategies such as building industry networks, training workers, or supporting entrepreneurs.

It is illuminating to view economies through the lens of industry cluster networks, because clusters capture the important linkages and pools of technology, skills, and resources that cut across firms and industries. Seeing a regional economy as a system of clusters reveals coordination opportunities and economic development targets.

Resource Links:
  • Unlocking Rural Competitiveness: The Role of Regional Clusters
    Published in January 2007, this report addresses competitiveness and innovation in rural America, analyzing rural industry clusters and their critical links to metropolitan regions. The study provides strong analytics and data combined with a case study approach that has yielded significant insights into future rural economic development.
  • Unlocking Rural Competitiveness: Highlights of Study (brochure-style)
    Offers a summary of the study, with key takeaways. This “highlights” brochure also provides useful explanations of several of the concepts that are central to this course.
  • The cluster-mapping web project launched as a partnership between Michael Porter (Harvard Business School) and the U.S. Economic Development Administration


In the demonstration module that follows, you will see how the tool can be applied to a regional development challenge. You’ll then have an opportunity to use the tool to