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Data, data, everywhere and no one knows from where: Economic developers and their sources

/ June 18, 2015

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Data, data, everywhere and no one knows from where: Economic developers and their sources

Whether or not economic developers realize it, they are considered central sources for community data.  Constantly asked about population numbers, labor force statistics, projected industry growth and business economic impact, the economic developer becomes the gatekeeper of all things numeral.  This aspect of the economic developer’s work is critical.  Gathering, analyzing and communicating this cornucopia of data is vital in making decisions about the direction a community must take in their quest for economic vibrancy.

The sources for demographic, industry and market data are well known throughout the economic development community and if one finds oneself in a position with little knowledge of where to collect data, the capitalist market has provided an array of sources that will share necessary data points for a fee.  The data and the sources are endless, which here in lies the problem.  Validity can become washed away in the ocean of various data points and sources.

Unless you have had courses in statistical analyses, quantitative research or have found yourself at the end of a professor’s critique of a research paper, you will most likely not tease out the validity of some economic data.  The way of handling such dilemmas is simple: know your source and cite them.  If you make a statement about what top five industries are in your community be prepared to say where you found this information.

The professional world is different from that of academy, but being able to credit a source transcends all fields.  To avoid or minimize scrutiny, to appear more knowledgeable, or simply out of mutual respect, remember to give credit to the source of your data.  A simply footnote or acknowledgement speaks volumes and if you are too ashamed of the source to give credit remember there are always plenty of other sources.

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