• State economic development leaders have embraced the need to report program outcomes to demonstrate the impact of their efforts but seek better indicators to measure those outcomes. A new paper from the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, Redefining Economic Development Performance Indicators for a Field in Transition, identifies a set of metrics beyond jobs and investment tallies to capture the broader benefits of economic development initiatives. This effort reflects an ongoing transition within economic development as the field moves from a recession-driven emphasis on job creation via business attraction and retention...

  • 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...

  • A new report from the Urban Institute assesses how the synthetic control method can be used for economic development policy evaluation. The synthetic control method (SCM) creates “a synthetic control region that simulates what the outcome path of a region would be if it did not undergo a particular policy intervention.” The method involves creating a “hypothetical counterfactual region” based on combined predictor variables from specified “donor regions” – such as other states – and comparing outcome variables. It is considered a useful quantitative supplement to qualitative case studies because...

  • We are going back to basics this week. I recently presented a workshop on incentives at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College focused on balancing the need to maximize economic outcomes with the judicious and transparent use of public funds. Among the takeaways: Incentive Basics and Trends Incentives are tools that help us achieve our community’s economic development goals. Smart incentive use is not just about winning a deal. Lines are blurring between traditional business incentives and development finance programs. Tax credits are the largest single category of state incentive, but...

  • Reporting and disclosure on incentive use sounds easy, but poses a huge challenge to many local governments. A new report from Good Jobs First reviews the online disclosure practices of 50 of the nation’s biggest counties and cities. Here are some of the takeaways: Study authors reviewed one or two programs each in 50 localities, selecting those that are the most costly, most frequently used, and/or most controversial. Among 85 of programs that could be rated, only 35 of those disclose some company-specific information and could be described as “transparent.” To...

  • Economic impact analyses are valuable tools for generating insights into the value a new investment can bring to a region, but what does it really mean for your decision-making or tell you about your economy? Guest blogger Paul Scheuren of Impact DataSource explains the essentials of economic impact and shares his firm's know-how in today's article. Economic impacts occur anytime money changes hands; from consumer to business or even business to business. The biggest misconception is that there is a single value that represents the mystical concept of economic impact. Economic impact...