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Data Collection and Analysis

Data is an essential part of community and economic development. However, merely collecting large quantities of information is impractical and ineffectual. Data should align with the actions and outcomes desired by a community. We join in by customizing data collection to the strategies a community chooses, ensuring the data collected will be used to effect change.

In addition to basic demographic information, the Alliance for Rural Impact offers specific analyses depending on the needs and desires of each community. These include:

  • Economic base analysis: In today’s global economy and due to the associated shifts taking place within U.S. manufacturing, targeting industrial activity, either for stand-alone projects or for cluster-based development (recruiting suppliers to existing industry already in the area, for example) is more important now than ever before. Unlike with retail and the competitiveness between neighboring communities, local industrial development can certainly play off of the competitive advantages of regional partners and communities. An economic base analysis examines employment activity from the local to the national level, by sector, as well as identifies regional industrial and other assets supporting local industrial development.
  • Labor shed analysis: Measuring the flow of employment is more critical than is often realized. Where workers travel from to work in communities, and how far they are willing to travel, is a reflection of relative local economic strength and viability of business and industry. Comparing a laborshed and a retail trade area provide a window to the regional influence, which if strong, supports a community’s ability to be more successful. Additionally, where people travel to work is also where they have a greater propensity to spend money. This analysis will assist the community with business recruitment and community growth strategies, alike.
  • Economic impact analysis: What is the impact of a new business in a community, in terms of jobs, income, revenue, real estate needs, student enrollment, etc.? Or an existing industry to the region? Or a lost business to a neighboring county? Economic impact is a powerful analysis providing insights into the value of a company, whether or not to offer incentives to a new company, and much more.
  • Population growth and sustainability factors: Business development success is not simply a result of economic characteristics in today’s community. Today, other critical assets are necessary for people to choose to live, work, invest, and play in a community. Leaders need to ask themselves, “why would anyone living here stay here?” or “why would anyone move here?” Factors impacting population and business growth are intertwined and must be examined.
  • Retail analysis: For communities dependent upon local sales taxes to generate revenues, capturing the dollars available from within their market area for goods and services is critical. Assessing the “real” market of the major communities and examining sales capture or leakage by category is the natural first step taken. Where should a community be drawing its customers? Where is it strong (in terms of captured sales)? Where is it weak? And what can a community do about it? Our analysis will provide purely objective results, allowing strategies to be a roadmap for retail development.
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