How does Extension better address vacant storefronts, underemployment issues, and help inform local economic development strategies? It engages local Extension professionals in a day-long in-service focused on building their familiarity with ‘Community Economics’ programs. A few weeks ago CD professionals learned more about economic development tools they can use to better impact communities throughout Ohio. The workshop featured familiar – and not so familiar – programs being conducted throughout the state to address the on-going economic concerns many Ohio communities are facing.
David Civittolo explaining BR&E Program assumptions.
Discussed were tried and true programs such as Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E), first delivered by OSU Extension in 1986, as well as the popular First Impressions program which has been used by Extension systems throughout the country as a way to gain authentic visitor insight about ways to improve communities. The more recent (and technical) Economic Impact Analysis (EIA) and Retail Market Analysis (RMA) programs were also shared. With a little training, both can provide a wealth of information about how local economies work, informing strategies for use by local development officials.
Nancy Bowen discussing various outcomes of BR&E.
Senior Extension staff members David Civittolo, Myra Moss, Eric Romich and Nancy Bowen convened participants and led discussion focused on how the various programs can be applied locally, including, for example:
- “Estimating the economic impact of a ‘typical’ farmer’s market”
- “Learning more about residents’ perceptions of community services”
- “Identifying development opportunities in a central business district”
Participants left equipped with a better understanding of some of Extension’s economic development tools and how to apply them in their own communities. After the one-day workshop, participant Trevor Corboy indicated that he felt ready to put these tools into action in a number of Clermont County communities.
Find out more about these and other community economics programs and how they can be put to work in your community by contacting any one of the presenters above. For basic information, visit our Economic Development program page.
Every one of us lives in a community. Let’s work together to make them better!
Nancy Bowen is an Associate Professor and Extension Field Specialist, Community Economics.
What economic sector employs more than 1 million Ohioans in over 120,000 establishments and either directly and indirectly supports 1 in 4 Ohio jobs ? That would be the Ohio retail sector which is also directly and indirectly responsible for almost 18% of Ohio’s Gross Domestic Product.
An economic sector of such importance should be the focus of ongoing attention and, as discussed in a prior blog post, can benefit from a Retail Market Analysis (RMA). RMA is a tool that identifies retail market trends within a local community and informs local and regional development strategies designed to build and strengthen this critical economic sector.
Does your community need an RMA? Review the checklist below to determine if so. While there is no correct score to help you decide whether it is time to conduct an RMA, the conversation stimulated by this checklist should be fairly informative.
- Does your community’s main street have empty retail store fronts?
- Have retail businesses closed and no one is sure why? Was it possibly preventable? What could have been done?
- Are retail jobs created and/or retained by local businesses being tracked, measured and reported? How?
- Does your community have a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy? If yes, is an RMA included?
- Is there an identified person who acts as the economic development coordinator that could lead and conduct an RMA? Who is it (are they)?
- How would you describe the working relationship between elected/appointed officials and the retail merchants?
- Are new retail businesses moving into or being created in the community?
- How and to what extent is data relevant to the local economy being collected from retail businesses on a regular basis?
- To what degree is existing data being analyzed to assess trends?
After reviewing responses to this list, it may soon become apparent that your community is not paying enough attention to the retail sector.
If you want to learn more about Retail Market Analysis and how it can help your community, contact: David Civittolo (firstname.lastname@example.org), Associate Professor and Field Specialist, Community Economics.
It is something that we’ve all seen before. Some downtowns seem vibrant and full of life while others appear to be struggling to hold on. But why? In the United States, over 10 percent of all employed persons (more than 15 million people) are employed in the retail sector. In Ohio alone, over 650,000. While these employees provide a valuable service in retailing (who doesn’t like the hardware, bakery or jewelry stores?), the effects that a healthy retail sector can have on a community are immeasurable. So, what makes them work? We can learn more about this sector of a community’s economy via a Retail Market Analysis study.
What is Retail Market Analysis Program?
Retail market analysis is a tool for identifying retail market trends within a local community. While the analysis focuses specifically on the performance of local retail markets, information on the broader demographic and economic trends within the region is critical to understanding current and future changes in these retail markets. Changes in population, the age and income distributions of the population and the number of people employed by different industrial sectors affect the demand for retail goods within a local community. They are critical factors to be considered in such analyses.
Also important is understanding of the pattern of retail spending within a local community relative to spending in neighboring areas. A sales leakage could indicate that the local demand for a particular product is not being met within the local community, whereas sales surpluses may explain how a local community serves a regional market that actually pulls shoppers in from outside the local area. (How many of us drive some distance to purchase specific items?) Such surplus/leakage estimates provides a means to identify the relative strengths and weaknesses of an area’s retail markets and inform economic development strategies for local communities. A retail market analysis is not a detailed plan of action, but rather provides facts and analysis for input into the community’s decision-making process about future economic development. And whether your retail sector seems vibrant and full of life or is simply struggling to hold on, informed decision making is critical.
To learn more about Extension’s Retail Market Analysis program, contact:
- David Civittolo (Associate Professor and Field Specialist, Community Economics)
- Nancy Bowen (Associate Professor and Field Specialist, Community Economics)
(Submitted by David Civittolo, Associate Professor and Field Specialist, Community Economics)