Remember the first time you got the keys to a car? You could hit the open road and explore. At first it was liberating and exciting. But then you needed to figure out where to go and how to get there.

In economic development today, the data ecosystem can feel like that first driving experience. There is so much to explore. So many routes that might lead to dead ends. If you don’t know where you’re going, you can make decisions that waste time, waste fuel and even waste your opportunity to make it to your desired destination.

Knowing the destination but not which road to take

The goal is economic growth and prosperity. So, how do you to choose where to start?

Start with the community — and by community, we don’t only mean the economic development agency. We mean potential collaborators and partners from industry, education, government, nonprofit and elected leaders. Working from the same data-driven starting point helps like-minded stakeholders to understand and identify the opportunities for growth and align on how to use data to take action.

Planning your route – together

You need to understand the economic and demographic trends shaping where you live and work as you design and engage in a resilient economic development investment or growth strategy. From basic demographics to hyper-local data to industry-specific data. It all matters.

Much of this data can be accessed using traditional data sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, finding, curating and updating this data can be a full-time position or more. That doesn’t even include getting you to the analysis.

A shared data platform is critical to developing a collective vision and the right route to success. A single public-facing interface can help build trust and drive your collaborative economic development strategy. Curated datasets and intuitive analytics make it easier than ever to identify opportunities for improvement and assess how to make an impact to accomplished shared goals.

Avoiding speed bumps

Ninety-seven percent of people looking for business locations, do their research online. They are looking for information about demographics, labor force, business and industry data, infrastructure, education, and worker wellness and they don’t have endless hours to hunt through pages of numbers. The key is not only to provide information but do it in an organized and easily accessible way.

For instance, take a look at residential real estate. By curating housing availability and affordability, rental prices, mortgage information, building permits and so much more, you and your partners can easily evaluate community trends and current conditions to inform a housing investment strategy.

Using analytics, you can go a step further and understand the relationship between variables that impact how a community develops. This works neighborhood to neighborhood, ZIP Code to ZIP Code as well as comparisons to similar places across the country.

Driving the community forward

Each of us might get in the car and drive to a different place. Empowering decision-making with data allows everyone to leverage their interest and expertise and drive the whole community forward whether it be by –

  • Conducting a community impact analysis
  • Creating an investment strategy
  • Planning for growth
  • Writing a grant to expand successful programs

Regardless of where you’re heading, data in the economic development sector is essential.  Creating a fundamental, community roadmap helps everyone make better decisions—and drives prosperity and livability for years to come.

Now, let’s grab the keys to the car and start exploring.

Data at Metopio

Metopio continually updates and adds curated, verified data and provides ridiculously easy tools to understand populations and places you care about. Adding valuable community context to any analysis gives you an edge when understanding a place, the people that live there and the impact you can have. Ask a Metopio expert to help you with your prosperity road map here.