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Measuring Economic Growth: Are We There Yet?

January 11, 2020 8:13 AM | TLC Monadnock (Administrator)

Is our community more prosperous now than it was before?

We’re not sure. We'd love to see our region develop a set of Community Economic Development indicators that measure how well our regional economy is working for all people and business types.

What are Community Economic Development Indicators?

From Economist Michael H. Shuman:

Generally speaking, Community Economic Development (CED) indicators are quantifiable metrics that provide useful information about whether that community is progressing toward a given goal.  The best indicators should meet the following four criteria:
  • Robust, in providing useful information about a community’s progress;
  • Quantifiable, so that it is objectively clear whether progress according to given indicator is being made;
  • Affordable, in the sense that the data underlying the indicators can be collected inexpensively from readily available sources; and
  • Manageable, so that a relatively small number of indicators does not overwhelm those using the information.
In Fall 2017, Michael Shuman presented us with a set of indicators sorted into four categories:
  • Economic Strength – These are widely accepted indicators, such as per capita income, that communities use to measure their economic well-being.
  • Entrepreneurship Strength – These are indicators that suggest the propensity of the community to creating new jobs and businesses.
  • Business Strength – These are indicators that suggest the overall health of the business community.
  • Community Economic Development (CED) Strength – These are indicators that measure the most important features of local economic development, including the percentage of jobs in locally owned business and the degree of local self-reliance. 

We then launched four surveys for different stakeholders (from entrepreneurs to service providers) to help us evaluate the impact of our CED initiatives. 

The Results

While we need more participation to draw any statistically significant results, the answers we received pointed to some needed next steps:

Better promote our Regional Comprehensive Economic Development Plans

Only 52% of survey respondents agreed that our region had a compelling vision for Community Economic Development.  This leads us to want to better promote the current Southwest Region Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) and Monadnock Region Future Plan from Southwest Region Planning Commission (SWRPC). 

A successful CED program must begin with a vision statement about its goals, one that is rooted in a serious community process.  We want to support the work of SWRPC and the next strategy update to ensure that clearer indicators are identified and added to our plans. 

Adopt a set of CEDS Indicators

Just 20% of survey respondents agree that our region has set clear indicators to measure whether we are reaching our CED goals.  

A successful CED program will have empirical indicators, updated regularly, that provide understandable information about whether the vision is being realized.

Interested in moving this work forward?  Please contact us today!

The Local Crowd Monadnock - Mailing Address: 63 Emerald St. #114, Keene, NH 03431

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