• 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...

  • 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...

  • Last week we wrote about the State Tax Incentive Evaluations Database. Here we highlight one state's efforts to share its own evaluations with interested citizens. This month the Oklahoma Incentive Evaluation Commission received draft evaluations for 11 state tax incentives. The draft evaluations are all available for review and download here. Oklahoma Watch and NewsOK have summaries of the recommendations here and here. Instead of repeating the findings, since they are easily accessible, in this article I want to highlight the way information is shared. The State of Oklahoma hosts a website dedicated...

  • State and local leaders continue to call for better information on how well their economic development and tax incentive programs are performing. In response, an increasing number of states are conducting formal program evaluations.  A new database from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) created with the support of The Pew Charitable Trusts compiles these state tax incentive evaluations in one place for easy access and searchability.  The database currently contains over 30 state evaluation reports and more will be added over time.  The online database allows searches by analysis topic...