• 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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • A new report describes how state administrative data records can support more rigorous analysis and evaluation of economic and workforce development programs. Guest blogger Greg Hirschfeld provides an overview of this useful study. Administrative records, which are data regularly collected through the operation or administration of state or local programs, contain important information on the characteristics and behaviors of companies and workers.  These records, such as corporate tax and unemployment insurance filings, hold great promise to improve program outcomes. The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) report, Improving State Administrative Data Sharing:...