Data-Driven Economic Development


Data-driven economic development ensures strategic, proactive, and comprehensive development that focuses on a city’s existing assets. By quantitatively mapping the city’s assets—its industry clusters, natural capital, educational resources, talent and workforce, local supply chains, and exports—city leaders can make more informed development decisions. This initial data-driven survey of a city’s economy not only exposes the “gap” areas in need of targeted investment, but also allows leaders to make decisions based on data rather than political pressure.

Data-driven economic development informs the smart cultivation and strengthening of the key development areas. Three key development areas—human capital, economic clusters, and local supply chains—ensure that the city’s economic growth is being captured locally.

Intelligent investment in human capital development requires building a system that is relevant and responsive to local employers and more accessible to and supportive of working adults and their families.

Data-driven human capital investment also focuses on supporting family sustaining jobs instead of subsidizing low road employers. Data-driven economic development helps identify and target investment to clusters of related companies in a given industry which are important to the city’s economy and competitive advantage.

Finally, this research reveals how to best identify and encourage localizing the supply of economic clusters within the city, ensuring increased local capture of economic growth.

Technical Assistance for Members

Member cities can request up to three short policy memos per year on the topics that you need the most help with.  Learn more.

What Cities Can Do

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Clusters & Asset Mapping

A recent asset map conducted by the Newark Alliance in New Jersey highlights how Newark’s industries including transportation, health, education, and retail are all clustered and propose a development strategy based on the clustering.

San Antonio, TX – which has been hailed as a “recession-proof city” – has anchored its local economy around education, medicine, biosciences, local government, and the military. Combined, these industries make up one-third of the workforce. The city continues to target investment in these industries based on this asset map.


Sustainable Jobs

The Seattle Jobs Initiative provides a road map for not only linking job training to the local economy, but also details how to ensure the city is developing good, family-sustaining jobs. So far they have placed 6,000 workers in living wage jobs.

Creating a Green Economy

The Portland Economic Development asset map highlights how a city can focus its development around creating a green economy.