Economic impact analysis for informed decision-making

So let’s say you are in charge of investing tax dollars in ways that will ultimately generate the highest return. How do you know where to allocate those funds? In fact, why invest public dollars in ways that will benefit private investment at all?

To better understand how jobs and public or private investment contribute to community and regional wellbeing we can turn to a tool known as economic impact analysis. Such analyses help us understand the economic impact of jobs (existing, new, and/or lost) and other business activities. In fact, such analysis was done on Extension by Battelle Institute in 2004 to learn that investment in OSU Extension yielded a return of nearly 2.5 times the annual Extension operating budget. Knowing such information can better inform policy decisions, including how to allocate limited resources and/or which industries or businesses to target for future growth and development (which employ people, create goods and services and ultimately generate increased wealth).

Data Analysis 2014-07-31Economic impact analysis, or EIA, benefits communities, chambers, economic development organizations, associations and others who are seeking to understand and quantify economic changes. EIA programs are offered through Extension Community Development (CD) using IMPLAN, an input-output (I-O) modeling software. The model captures indirect and induced impacts that occur from an initial direct investment or series of investments using the most recent data available.

Extension CD offers four basic types of EIA reports which can be customized to meet specific needs:

  • Industry Profile Report – A profile of the top industries in your community by sector. The profile will describe employment, tax contribution and wages for the top five sectors and potential implications for the community.
  • Project Effect Report – An analysis that shows the impact of a past or recent project, highly effective for displaying the value of projects to local community leaders and stakeholders; as well as the value that a local economic development organization offers its service area.
  •  Industry Contribution Report – A detailed report of the contribution of an industry sector to the community and region. How extensive is the impact of the agriculture, tourism or manufacturing sectors to the local, regional and state economy?
  • Economic Impact Analysis – This report provides an in-depth analysis of the economic impact an event has on the local economy when taking place in a variety of selected industry sectors. The EIA can assist in identifying what type of industry is best to target for the local economy.

For more information on the program, including recently completed EIA reports, click here.

(Submitted by Nancy Bowen-Ellzey, Associate Professor and Extension Field Specialist, Community Economics. Additional contacts: David Civittolo, Associate Professor and Extension Field Specialist, Community Economics, and Greg Moon, Extension Educator, Wyandot County & Erie Basin EERA.)

Growing the economy with entrepreneurial talent


What community doesn’t want to learn about identifying and growing its entrepreneurs? Communities of all sizes, large and small, are looking for ways to bolster economic growth. While research shows about 60 to 80 percent of new jobs created annually are the result of existing business expansion, new business start-ups create about 40 percent of new jobs annually (about 6.5 jobs per new business on average) (Badal, 2010).

How can we partner with the chambers of commerce, economic development offices and youth leadership programs to cultivate interest in growing new businesses in these communities?

We recently had the opportunity to tour the world headquarters of Gallup (the longtime ‘polling’ organization that has more recently gotten into the business of ‘StrengthsFinder’ among other things). In addition to hearing an interesting overview of the company’s history, we also learned of the newly unveiled ‘Entrepreneurship StrengthsFinder’ from Gallup representatives. We left there convinced that this tool provides us opportunities to stimulate interest in exercising entrepreneurial talents and abilities with audiences of all ages and walks of life.

To learn more about this new tool for identifying entrepreneurial talent, click here.

(Submitted by Greg Davis, Professor and Assistant Director, OSU Extension – Community Development, and Rose Fisher Merkowitz, Associate Professor and Extension Educator, Miami Valley EERA)

Technology Means New Growth

Avert Bust after Shale Boom 2104-07-17

These days in many eastern Ohio communities, new extraction technologies – hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” as it is frequently called – are opening underground resources that were not available previously. This growth and development is creating new jobs and opportunities for business development. It is also raising concerns involving traffic, housing, health care, education and social services, for example.

To help community leaders make informed decisions and develop long-range plans that will address and balance economic, social and environmental impacts of this new wave of development, OSU Extension CD has put together a broad team of researchers and community development professionals to provide needed data, information and guidance. Read more here.

(Submitted by: Myra Moss, Associate Professor and Extension Educator, Heart of Ohio EERA. Additional sources: Cindy Bond, Assistant Professor and County Extension Educator, Guernsey County; Nancy Bowen-Ellzey, Associate Professor and Extension Field Specialist, Community Economics and Eric Romich, Assistant Professor and Extension Field Specialist, Energy Development.)

The fragile nature of a new idea

I’m a writer – well, sort of.  Couched within my job as an Extension Educator is the expectation that I’ll write. Fact sheets, flyers, marketing materials, news articles…Extension folks write stuff. Over the years, I’ve seen plenty of really good – and a few not so skilled – writers. And great or bad, every writer needs a good editor – someone who can help clarify ideas, find embarrassing typos, and get those commas where they belong.

I’ve served as an editor as often as I’ve been a writer, which is why I never forget that the act of writing is kind of amazing – it’s like creating something from nothing; and editing is like taking that new creation and sanding away the rough the edges. The effort it takes to write – to fill a page (or more likely, a computer screen) that was once  void of any intelligence or creativity, with information, poetry, ideas, solutions, questions – takes effort, imagination, and courage.

Idea exchangeWriting isn’t the only creative venture that takes courage. This same philosophy also applies to generating ideas. Countless times, I’ve been in meetings where folks are brainstorming ideas to address an issue; then someone begins to strike down the ideas, edit (kill) them, until all that’s left is a pile of bright, shiny potential covered with slimy, gray criticism. Okay, calm down, I know that the dialogue balancing creativity and evaluation is essential. My point is that we should make it a practice to acknowledge the fragile nature of new ideas and occasionally provide a protected environment to allow some of the better thoughts to take root and grow. New ideas are like fragile bubbles, floating out in the open, in full daylight, where anyone with an opinion, an agenda, or a little indigestion from lunch, can pop them.

Noted Nobel Prize scientist and humanitarian, Dr. Linus Pauling shared, “The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.” Of course, not every idea is a good one; in fact many are probably not workable. But plenty of good things have come from crazy ideas – like digital cameras, the Apollo space program, and imitation crab meat (okay, some things are a matter of taste). Without those people who are willing to take a risk on a novel idea, we would never have experienced the joy of flying, the convenience of the Post-It Note, or sweet pulp of a seedless watermelon. So the next time you’re in a meeting and presented with an innovative or unusual idea, take a moment before sharing why you think it won’t work, and consider all of the unlikely reasons that it may just be brilliant.

(Submitted by Becky Nesbitt, Assistant Professor and Extension Educator, Ohio Valley EERA)

Working together to promote Community, Local & Regional Food Systems

Fresh Lettuce!

(Photo credit: post 7/2/2014)

What could be better than eating fresh fruits and vegetables out of your garden this time of year?  Well, not much other than having access to such garden fresh foods year round. If you are interested in such things, there is a new resource available at eXtension called the Community, Local & Regional Food Systems Community of Practice or ‘CoP’.  This CoP is designed to provide information and networking opportunities for educators, community-based practitioners, policy makers, farmers/growers, families, and really anyone involved in building equitable, health-promoting, resilient, and economically balanced food systems.

Anyone can share, learn, and contribute in any number of ways. For more information, click here.

(Submitted by: Brian Raison, Assistant Professor and County Extension Educator, Miami County and Top of Ohio EERA / Co-leader, eXtension Community, Local & Regional Food Systems Community of Practice.)