• What are we achieving with our incentive program spending? How do we get the right data on program outcomes? We tackled these hot topics at last week’s C2ER Annual Conference. Economic development leaders are eager to demonstrate incentive effectiveness, but the question often is, “effective at what?” Unfortunately, many incentive programs lack a clear statement of purpose or explanation of expected outcomes. Figuring out what to measure and report on related to incentives outcomes is frequently a challenge. Remarks by Ellen Harpel of Smart Incentives provided the big picture related...

  • If you are thinking about how to deploy a dashboard for your economic development organization, take a good look at the new Performance Metrics platform from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD). Dashboards like this are a popular way to share information on government program performance. Economic development organizations are increasingly developing their own dashboards or transparency portals to provide better data on incentive use and program outcomes. The TNECD Performance Metrics platform’s purpose, according to COO Ted Townsend, is to “serve as a valuable resource for...

  • Economic development was the top issue for mayors in their annual State of the City addresses for the fourth year in a row, according to State of the Cities 2017, a report recently released by the National League of Cities. The report explains: 66% of state of the city speeches included significant coverage of economic development issues. Much of the coverage was positive, describing "jobs created and developments built." Wages and employment are generally up, while unemployment rates are down.  The top five economic development topics (in order) were: job creation business attraction downtown...

  • Data sharing has the potential to change the way states manage incentive program compliance and evaluation efforts. Data sharing “is a formal process by which state agencies that collect and manage administrative records, such as corporate income tax and unemployment insurance records, may grant other government agencies and outside researchers access to microdata within those records to support authorized activities.” The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) has created the State Data Sharing Initiative to identify ways that economic and workforce development programs can safely and securely access administrative data...

  • States “have made progress in gathering evidence on the results of their economic development tax incentives,” but challenges remain for policy leaders seeking to understand and improve economic development outcomes. Ellen Harpel of Smart Incentives and Josh Goodman from The Pew Charitable Trusts discussed “Evaluating and Improving Tax Incentives” as part of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy’s seminar on Economic Perspectives on State and Local Taxes. Goodman presented Pew’s latest report on the subject, How States Are Improving Tax Incentives for Jobs and Growth. 27 states and the District...