So which communities are sustaining economic growth and what are the key drivers of growth? Moran, Stahl & Boyer (MS&B) - a leading economic development and site selection consultant - embarked on a study over the past year to gain some insights into economic growth and the dynamics behind the numbers. The results of this effort have been completed and are available in a summary report.
The research effort was accomplished using two different approaches: First, communities within the population ranges from 100,000 to 500,000 and from 500,000 to 2,000,000 were extensively evaluated and compared to identify any growth trends. Communities were then divided into four growth ranges and compared against demographics and economic segments. Specific situations were tested, such as the presence of a major university or military base, the size and profile of manufacturing employment, whether the location was a resort or retirement community, and other considerations. The results noted some distinct trends and a few surprises.
In addition to the data crunching, MS&B surveyed 15 growing communities of different sizes and geographic locations to gather first-hand details on the dynamics of growth and the efforts being done to stimulate the growth. The survey had a battery of questions related to what's driving growth, the impact of high growth, target industries, work force development, stimulation of entrepreneurial activity, and marketing efforts. The capstone question asked the participant to define two important initiatives that communities should consider in order to stimulate economic growth. It was interesting that the results essentially focused on two consistent themes: the development of an effective strategy and the building of strong internal and external relations. The details of the survey are highlighted in the report.