Tourism Toolbox to Help Your Outreach

Tourism is one of the fastest growing industry sectors in Ohio, growing two times faster than the overall employment in the state. In 2014, the industry produced $40 billion in business activity, accounting for $11.4 billion in personal income and almost 9% of jobs in Ohio (Tourism Economics).

Tourism Toolbox 2015-09-24The Tourism Toolbox website was developed in 2009 by the Ohio Tourism Team, a public/private partnership involving OSU Extension, the Ohio Sea Grant Program and other partners including the Ohio Travel Association (OTA), for researchers, organizations and businesses interested in learning more about the industry.

The site serves as a one-stop resource for starting a tourism-related business, creating a community plan, tracking industry trends, or accessing current resources, among other topics and reports. For example, a new report addressing the Ohio tourism industry’s core competencies, training needs and delivery preferences, Ohio Tourism Industry Needs Assessment 2014 Report, is now available on the site.

The site was recently updated and content was transferred to the Extension Community Development site, currently accessible at:

(Submitted by Nancy Bowen, Associate Professor & Extension Field Specialist, Community Economics)

Research informs organizational sustainability



Why are some organizations able to thrive and grow while others are in a seemingly constant struggle to survive? One reason is an intentional focus on sustainability. Last year OSU Extension Community Development professionals focused efforts on COSI, an organization dedicated to fun, hands-on science exploration since 1964. Of particular interest was the science museum visitors’ “willingness-to-pay” for the products and services offered by the 50-year-old organization.

The project compared COSI’s existing fee structure with other similar organizations taking into account location, visitor profile and museum services. It also analyzed potential changes to the COSI fee structure using survey data from non-member visitors to COSI.

In the end, the effort yielded recommendations to the organization that were informed by research-based data; data of critical importance for informing strategies for continued organizational growth and sustainability. View the “Willingness to Pay Study.”

For more information, please contact Nancy Bowen (Associate Professor and Extension Field Specialist, Community Economics) or David Civittolo (Associate Professor and Extension Field Specialist, Community Economics).

Ohio BR&E Program Goes to Purdue

Each of us plays a variety of roles in the local economy. We are both producers and consumers, and the relationships are many and ever-changing. Understanding our local and regional economies can be challenging, but a Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E) program can help.

Since its inception at OSU in the mid-80’s, the Ohio BR&E program has spread throughout the U.S. and the world as a core economic development strategy. Program curriculum has been delivered or shared  as far away as Guam, Macedonia and Ukraine; and most recently in New York, South Dakota and Florida.

Purdue Train the Trainer January 2015 Civittolo teachingExtension CD faculty Nancy Bowen, David Civittolo and Joe Lucente took it on the road again, this time to Indiana, delivering a two-day train-the-trainer program at Purdue University on January 22-23. Seventeen new regional CD Specialists and Educators from throughout Indiana learned the nuts and bolts of the BR&E curriculum and new “Targeted BR&E” program. This training effort and resulting community programs in Indiana are being supported by a North Central Regional Center for Rural Development (NCRCRD) “Interstate” grant of $5,000.

As part of the “Interstate Grant”, Purdue will be delivering Ohio’s BR&E curriculum as part of a new program being launched in collaboration with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, titled the Hometown Collaboration Initiative (HCI). Five communities will be selected to be part of the HCI effort in 2015, with the BR&E program being a major component.

Since 1990, the Ohio BR&E program has been delivered in 80 of Ohio’s 88 counties and 155 communities; helping local officials and residents learn what can be done to help existing businesses and informing better decisions. The Ohio BR&E Program website, including BR&E materials, can be found at:

(Submitted by Nancy Bowen, Associate Professor and Extension Field Specialist, Community Economics; David Civittolo, Associate Professor and Extension Field Specialist, Community Economics; and Joe Lucente, Assistant Professor and Extension Educator, Ohio Sea Grant Program)

Informing community planning for shale play impacts

How do we inform community planning for the impacts related to the shale play in eastern Ohio? One approach is to track key indicator data.

EDA data analysisExtension researchers recently shared the highlights of an advanced cluster analysis focused on manufacturing with community development officials in four EDD’s (economic development districts) within the eastern Ohio shale play. The cluster analysis is one of four analytical steps being conducted as part of an EDA (Economic Development Administration) funded project to inform the overall 25-county region about economic, social and environmental changes, potential implications and strategic directions for sustainable development.

Changes are being tracked quarterly or annually depending on what is being measured using a number of data sets including the Center for Human Resource Research’s enterprise and workforce database and IMPLAN, an economic modeling software program. Social and environmental indicators are also being tracked including school enrollment, housing starts, crime and water quality, using a wide variety of public and private data sources.

The cluster analysis revealed both expected and unexpected trends occurring in the four EDD’s. As anticipated, in the region experiencing the majority of the drilling activity, the vast majority of the 600 or so jobs created between 2010-2013 were in the core and ancillary industries related to shale development. During the same period, the Buckeye Hills-Hocking Valley Regional Development District in the southern-most part of the 25-county region saw a concentration of hiring activity occurring primarily in construction tied to housing and commercial development, most likely due to shale development. Unexpectedly, relatively little or no jobs were created in core or ancillary shale industries in this district.

Building on the cluster analysis findings, researchers are now embarking on an industry capacity assessment to discover linkages and opportunities for sustainable growth in value added manufacturing in the four regions. A recently published article provides more information on the project:

(Submitted by Nancy Bowen-Ellzey, Extension Field Specialist, Community Economics)

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.)

EDA Grant secured to help Shale Communities

Carroll County Well - Oil & Gas Symposium 5-25-12

What do you do when you’ve just been informed that you’ve won the mega-millions jackpot? You say “what?!!” and then the questions really begin to run through your mind. These are the questions that many residents, businesses and local officials are wrestling with as they experience the shale play in eastern and southern Ohio. Extension is prepared to lend a hand to address some of these questions, thanks to funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA). EDA funding will help support a three-year project that began in October 2013 focused on making the most of the economic upswing by leveraging manufacturing supply chain opportunities.

For an update on the progress of the grant, click here.

Project partners include:

  • Sustainable Strategic Planning Team, consisting of a multi-disciplinary group of Extension educators with expertise in community economics, energy development, sustainable community planning, community foundations and wealth management:
  • Nancy Bowen (PI): Assistant Professor and Extension Field Specialist in Community Economics
  • Eric Romich (Co-PI): Assistant Professor and Extension Field Specialist for Energy Development
  • Myra Moss (Co-PI): Associate Professor and Extension Educator, Community Development (Heart of Ohio EERA)
  • Cindy Bond (Co-PI): Assistant Professor and County Extension Educator, Community Development (Guernsey County)
  • Mike Lloyd: Assistant Professor and County Extension Educator, Community Development (Noble County)
  • David Civittolo: Associate Professor and Extension Field Specialist in Community Economics
  • Joe Bonnell: Program Director, Watershed Management, School of Environment and Natural Resources
  • Polly Loy: County Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences (Belmont County)
  • Jim Bates: Assistant Professor and Extension Field Specialist, Family Wellness
  • OSU Extension Shale Working Group: Draws on Extension personnel and faculty from various departments and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to develop accurate research-based information on shale energy exploration and drilling in Ohio.
  • Regional Economic Development Organizations:
  • Eastgate Regional Council of Governments
  • Northeast Ohio Four County Regional Planning and Development Organization
  • Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association
  • Buckeye Hills-Hocking Valley Regional Development District

The five core objectives of the grant are:

  • Advanced Industry Cluster Analysis
  • Industry Capacity Assessment
  • Asset Mapping
  • Sustainable Strategic Planning to Elevate and Expand CEDS
  • Develop Implementation Strategies

Submitted by Nancy Bowen-Ellzey, Assistant Professor and Extension Field Specialist, Community Economics)