The content in this article was provided by C2ER – The Council for Community and Economic Research. For more information about C2ER, visit C2ER’s website by clicking here

On June 7, 2018, economic development professionals from across the U.S. assembled at C2ER’s annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia to recognize excellence in economic development research work done by their peers. Receiving awards were the Detroit Regional Chamber/Macomb County Planning and Economic Development, Dallas Regional Chamber, Iowa Workforce Development, State of Michigan, Greater New Orleans, Inc , Allegheny Conference on Community Development from the Pittsburgh region, and the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center/ St. Louis Community College.

The C2ER awards program recognizes the contribution of research activities to the success of local, regional, or state/provincial economic development initiatives. The purpose of the award is to increase the quality of economic development research by identifying meritorious projects and promoting the diffusion of creative ideas for research activities.

Projects could be submitted for evaluation in the following categories of research activity:

  • Projects that support business and workforce development activities
  • Data collection/dissemination efforts, including web-based systems
  • Policy Analysis supporting federal, state, or local initiatives
  • Project impact/program evaluation or assessment
  • Projects that support collaborative community/regional initiatives

The projects were judged on their contributions to the economic development research field, innovative-ness in approach, implementation or collaborative efforts, responsiveness to customer needs, and benefits resulting from project implementation. The seven highest scored projects were chosen out of 23 submissions.

Research projects recognized for “Outstanding Achievement” include:

Allegheny Conference on Community Development
For Recognition for Projects Supporting Collaborative Regional Initiatives

In 2016, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development (Conference) released an in-depth workforce report: Inflection Point: Supply, Demand and the Future of Work in the Pittsburgh Region. The report serves as a forward look into the coming transformation of work within the region – spurred by innovation and technological change across every industry – and its implications for employers, educators and workforce talent. The Inflection Point report was among the first of its kind because it combined traditional public data sources, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics U.S. Census/American Community Survey and others, with real-time labor market and skills analytics from Burning Glass Technologies (BGT) which captures deep, accurate insights into current and emerging skills trends. Inflection Point has become a defining element of workforce development and talent attraction and retention in the Pittsburgh region.

Detroit Regional Chamber and the Macomb County Planning and Economic Development
For Projects Supporting Collaborative Regional Initiatives

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s MICHauto initiative works to promote, retain, and grow the automotive industry in Michigan. The Business Research team at the Detroit Regional Chamber spent significant time determining the best measures and categories to include to communicate the entire breadth of next generation mobility related assets and competitive advantages, and thus created the MICHauto AutoMobility Map and corresponding Michigan is AutoMobility report. The report and mapping tools are used by the Detroit Regional Chamber’s economic development team to promote the region, domestically and internationally. In addition to improving regional partners ability to use the report and map to attract and retain businesses in the region, the tools also have been used by the state economic development agency, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Missouri Economic Research Information Center ( MERIC ) and St. Louis Community College
For Projects Supporting Collaborative Community/Regional Initiatives

The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) and St. Louis Community College collaborated in 2017 on middle skills studies, each with a different approach to shedding light on employer needs and career opportunities. MERIC looked at existing research to analyze the state’s middle-skill jobs and published the Missouri Middle Skills report to highlight the findings in July 2017. The St. Louis Community College conducted an employer survey of area businesses to understand middle-skilled workforce needs and trends. They published their report, “Right in the Middle: Skills at the Center of the St. Louis Economy,” in August 2017 and presented findings at their annual workforce event.

Dallas Regional Chamber and Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas
For Projects Supporting Business and Workforce Development Activities

The Dallas Regional Chamber in partnership with Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas created an actionable, comprehensive, and data-driven analysis of the Greater Dallas Market, referred to as the Workforce Center Profile and Utilization Study. Eight workforce centers across Dallas County are responsible for fostering employer and job seeker relationships, facilitated by the optimization of resources. The research and data analyst shared by both entities was tasked with identifying the total number of individual and employer users, characteristics of the target audience, and utilization of available services. Resulting metrics allowed leadership to make informed decisions, which optimized service offerings.

Iowa Workforce Development
For Policy Analysis Supporting State Initiatives

Iowa Workforce Development’s Labor Market Information Division released in November 2017 a report regarding college student retention, Retaining Iowa’s Talent: Post-Graduation Location & Employment Plans. The report is based upon a survey distributed to college students across the State of Iowa. Students enrolled in community colleges, state universities, and private institutions (both for-profit and non-profit) including career/technical schools participated in the survey. Iowa Workforce Development researchers coordinated with the Registrar Offices from the varying postsecondary institutions across the state to distribute the online survey by email to students between March and May of 2017. The purpose of the survey was to gather information regarding students’ intentions to either remain in Iowa or locate outside of Iowa following graduation or upon program completion. A data visualization was also created, using the Tableau software platform, to accompany the release of the full report.

State of Michigan
For Projects Supporting Data Dissemination Efforts including Web-based Systems

Given the large investments made by governments and students alike, it has never been more critical to understand the success of education and training programs in placing graduates into the labor market. In response to this critical need, the State of Michigan developed a free online career exploration and planning tool, the Michigan Education and Career Pathfinder. This tool provides information to help users make more informed choices on education and career opportunities in Michigan. The project was developed as a partnership across multiple state agencies, including the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, the Department of Technology, Management and Budget, the Talent Investment Agency, and the Center for Educational Performance and Information. Pathfinder has improved the research capabilities of several stakeholders, particularly community colleges, universities, and American Job Centers. The availability of the Pathfinder tool has spurred a number of new efforts across the state of Michigan to provide this information to the customers that need it.

Greater New Orleans, Inc.
For Projects Supporting Policy Analysis/ Local Initiatives

In 2015, Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.), the regional economic development alliance for Southeast Louisiana, published the first report in its signature State of the Sector series. The goal of these reports is to provide a broad range of industry, workforce, and education partners with accessible and actionable jobs data that can inform both individual choices (about education and training programs to pursue) and institutional investment (in programs projected to be in high-demand moving forward.) The State of the Sector reports provide clear explanations for the factors driving growth in each of the six target sectors and aim to answer frequently asked questions related to current and future industry workforce needs in the region. In order to successfully develop and release a State of the Sector, GNO, Inc. research staff collaborates with a diverse range of partners, including academic researchers, employers, and education providers. Today, the reports have been adopted by a wide range of employers and workforce development practitioners across the region.

C2ER – The Council for Community and Economic Research – is a national membership organization of economic development researchers, represents professionals working for chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, local government, utilities, academic institutions, and regional planning councils.

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