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EDRP Publications


The Economic Development Research Partners Program is an exclusive membership level of IEDC, which supports practice-oriented research. The publications developed under EDRP's guidance and sponsorship are designed to increase the knowledge base of the economic development profession and help practitioners navigate through today's rapidly changing economy. Through the EDRP program, IEDC is taking its mission to a new level: to assist practitioners in successfully competing in the global economy, increasing prosperity for communities at an accelerated pace, and empowering economic development professionals to better define their vision and value.

The following publications are free to our members. Non members may purchase the publications.


Revitalizing Neighborhoods, Empowering Residents: Economic Development in Disinvested Communities

In recent years, income inequality has only grown, and poverty has become more concentrated. Suburban areas alone saw a growth in populations in distressed neighborhoods of 139 percent from 2000 to 2012. Neighborhoods and entire cities have fallen into cycles of persistent disinvestment and distress. The call for economic developers to take action has amplified as; those who take action on these difficult issues can not only improve the livelihoods of low-income residents in distressed neighborhoods, but improve the economic well-being for all of a place's citizens.

This report outlines different strategies that when combined and approached in a holistic way can successfully attract investment to distressed areas by addressing the social, physical, and economic barriers to investment, while combating further displacement, growth in income-equality, and the concentration of poverty.

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A New Standard: Achieving Data Excellence in Economic Development

Data drive business decisions as never before. Economic developers can become trusted providers of this data when it is relevant, accurate, detailed and current. Supported by the Site Selectors Guild, the Economic Development Research Partners' latest paper provides detailed instructions for achieving this goal. The paper explains how economic developers can use new and free sources of information and analytic tools to present the quality data that corporate decision-makers expect, while addressing gaps in the data that can hinder business attraction efforts.

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Critical Condition: Infrastructure for Economic Development

America's infrastructure has historically been an important contributor to this country's economic vitality. Businesses of every size and industry rely on highways, water, electricity, and the internet; the pipes, roads, and bridges that provide these services are crucial to creating jobs and generating tax revenues that build healthy, vibrant communities. Yet, today, the U.S. infrastructure system faces a raft of challenges, from unsustainable financing and deferred maintenance, to technological change, security risks, and new environmental rules.

This report discusses how economic developers can advocate for infrastructure, participate meaningfully in planning processes, and advance innovative new forms of finance to overcome these challenges. With these tools, economic developers can help develop and maintain effective, efficient infrastructure that delivers economic prosperity for workers, businesses, and communities.

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EDRP on Incentives

Incentives, used to encourage real estate development, capital investment, business formation, and workforce relocation, are key instruments in the economic development toolbox. IEDC members have requested guidelines to help them use incentives as effectively and efficiently as possible. Over two years, EDRP has prepared three reports on incentives. Seeding Growth (2015) details how to calculate incentives' economic and fiscal impact. More than Money (2014) explains how non-financial inducements can be used as cost-effective incentives. Incentives for the Twenty-First Incentives (2015) presents the latest in goodincentive design. For the first time, these three reports are now available as a complete set at 15% off. Get your copy of this must-have economic development resource today.

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Incentives for the Twenty-First Century

Economic developers seek effective incentives that can help grow community prosperity. This paper presents incentives that reduce business costs and have the potential to significantly increase jobs, investment, tax revenues, and consumer spending in innovative, cost-effective ways that also advance community development goals. The incentives chronicled in this paper fall into three groups; one is traditional incentives redefined to make them more effective, another that decrease costs while increasing efficiency, and another that focuses on social development goals.

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Widening the Circle: Engaging a Young and Diverse Workforce in Economic Development

Engagement of young and diverse populations in economic development will ensure the continued success of the field and the organizations within it. Diversity in age, gender, race, and sexual orientation leads to new ideas and reinforces connections to local communities and new markets. Recruiting a diverse workforce is an essential responsibility of economic development organizations in order to advance the field and to strengthen their own organizations with new perspectives and new leaders. This paper documents current diversity metrics in the economic development field, explores the impact of organizational culture, and highlights ways that engaging diverse populations can strengthen both EDOs and the profession. It also provides strategies and best practices in hiring, development, and compensation and benefits that support diverse populations.

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Shifting Workforce Development into High Gear: How Economic Developers Lead Workforce System Alignment

A skilled workforce is one of the most important factors impacting a community's competitiveness. To address this issue, IEDC's in-house think tank, the Economic Development Research Partners (EDRP) focused their latest paper on new policies in workforce development, and how economic developers can take a lead role in creating talent pipelines. The paper provides an overview of the players in workforce development, a survey of economic developers' approach to the issue, five case studies of organizations making an impact, and recommendations for how to best influence workforce development on a regional, state, and local scale.

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Seeding Growth: Maximizing the Return on Incentives

Incentives are a prevalent tool in economic development practice, yet two central questions remain: how can the return of these investments be calculated, and how can the return be increased? This report presents practitioners with four models of return that can be implemented, and then describes in detail the methods of undertaking the calculations that are critical to accurate results. The report also offers practitioners guidelines that can be used to increase the return of incentives, including clearly defining objectives, setting criteria for receiving objectives, and rewarding companies that meet and exceed their commitments.

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More than Money: Alternative Incentives that Benefit Companies and Communities

Incentives are among the most important tools available to economic development organizations (EDOs) for business attraction. Although financial incentives are more commonly used, a fast-evolving alternative focuses on business assistance other than a direct subsidy. These alternative incentives are the focus of this paper. It explores more than 40 different types of alternative incentives EDOs use, examines cases where alternative incentives were successfully used for business attraction or expansion, and provides recommendations for effectively utilizing them.

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Looking Around the Corner: The Future of Economic Development

In the next ten to fifteen years, EDOs will be responding to changes and shifts that cannot be quantified today. While it is impossible to know with certainty what these disruptions will be, at a macro level there are existing trends - demographics, technology expansion, shifting global roles, and climate change - that act as signals for what may happen. This paper delves into the implications of these emerging trends, considering the ways that economic developers can maintain competitiveness in a changing global economy.

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Making it Count: Metrics for High Performing EDOs

Economic development organizations (EDOs) understand how important it is to measure performance. Yet only two-thirds do so regularly. And even when they do, the vast majority focus on four variables - job creation, capital investment, changes in tax base, and personal income - that are more reflective of the origins of the economic development profession than the myriad activities that EDOs engage in now. While these metrics will continue to be used in the near future, EDOs need to adopt new metrics that are better aligned with their current work. This research project offers a comprehensive, easy-to-use "menu" of economic development metrics that EDOs can choose from based on their mission, functions and resources along with a guidebook on EDO performance measurement.

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» Complete report
» Part I: Guidebook
» Part II: Menu
» Part III: Case Studies
» Part IV: Metrics Research and Analysis

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Raising the Bar Together: Successful Strategies for Workforce and Economic Development Collaboration

Workforce and economic development organizations are increasingly partnering together to offer improved workforce training and economic development services. Both groups realize the importance of collaboration in order to ensure a talented labor supply to meet the needs of today’s companies and to sufficiently educate workers for the demands of the knowledge economy. Business leaders and educational institutions are also being engaged to develop holistic collaborative frameworks. This paper distills best practices in collaborative efforts to form systems that leverage the strengths and resources of all partners to create a sustainable labor force. The report features five case studies ranging from the state, local, and regional level, and cover rural and urban areas. It also includes recommendations distilled from the case studies for communities that want to forge and strengthen partnerships in workforce and economic development.

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The Economic Development Impacts of Immigration

Immigration is an integral part of America's past, present, and future. In recent decades, the waves of immigrants coming to U.S. shores have grown larger. Due to changes in immigration flows and settlement patterns, some economic development organizations (EDOs) are now facing immigration issues and immigrant populations without adequate knowledge or relevant experience. This paper summarizes the large body of research on immigration and economic development, and finds much evidence that immigration strengthens the economy and contributes in several positive ways. Throughout the paper, various case studies illustrate how EDOs in communities large and small have engaged immigrants in economic development.

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New Realities for Funding Economic Development Organizations

Funding for economic development organizations (EDOs) is changing in response to various global, national and local shifts. Not only are funding mechanisms impacted, but also EDO structures and their business practices. This paper is the second one in a series of research papers, themed Adapting and Thriving: New Realities for Economic Development Organizations. It explores trends in different organizational funding streams for EDOs before and after the Great Recession. The paper covers both public and private funding streams and provides recommendations for economic developers who want to develop and strengthen specific funding streams as part of their organization's budget. Case study examples highlight successful practices from around the world.

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Accelerating Success: Strategies to Support Growth-Oriented Companies

Growth-oriented companies go by various names and definitions. But whether they are startups or established firms, with steady or fast growth, each has expansion in its sights. This paper follows up on IEDC’s 2011 publication, “Unlocking Entrepreneurship,” to explore approaches that economic developers can use to boost the growth potential of job-generating companies. It defines the characteristics of growth-oriented companies and how to identify them, then profiles nine tools and strategies commonly in practice today for accelerating firm expansion. Broken out by different stages of company growth, the strategies aim to aid expansion primarily through access to expertise, funding, competitive intelligence or connections.

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New Realities for Economic Development Organizations

Economic development organizations (EDOs) are operating in a new landscape due to shifts in the 21st century economy and an uncertain recovery from the Great Recession. The new landscape is complex and uncertain, marked by heightened global competition, an urgent need to increase efficiency, more stringent demands for accountability from investors and stakeholders, and pressure to create and retain jobs in a severely impacted labor market. As economic changes and other factors challenge EDOs and communities across the nation, these shifts also have pushed practitioners to become more strategic, creative and nimble, and in some cases have enabled them to enhance their leadership position in the community.

This paper identifies the factors shaping today's economic landscape and how economic development business practices are adapting in response. Funding, performance measurement, organizational structures, strategic partnership management, strategic planning, and leadership development are some the issues explored in this paper. The report also includes examples of how some organizations are addressing these challenges.

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Knowledge is Power: Working Effectively with Site Selectors

Based on dozens of interviews with economic developers, site selectors and industry observers, this report offers an in-depth look at the site selection industry today. It discusses trends in the industry's evolution, the impact of those trends, and issues and challenges that economic developers often encounter when working with site consultants. It concludes with practical recommendations to help economic development organizations prepare to work with site selectors on all aspects of a project.

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Jobs in the Making: Economic Development Strategies to Grow Manufacturing

As the global manufacturing marketplace has become more dynamic, high-tech and integrated, the needs of manufacturers have changed dramatically. Economic developers have to respond more quickly and flexibly, look farther afield, draw on a wider range of resources and partners, and use increasingly sophisticated strategies. This report attempts to provide some of the clarity, tools, and direction that will help economic developers maintain a thriving manufacturing sector in their communities.

An overview of the sector's history and importance to the U.S. economy provides context for the report, along with an examination of trends that have led manufacturing to become more innovative, open and globalized. Research plus interviews and surveys of leading economic developers identify key trends and strategies to retain and grow manufacturing firms. The report includes action steps for cultivating supply chain opportunities, creating innovation networks, promoting exports, developing a skilled workforce, expanding access to financing, and other tools and ideas.

Fourteen case studies highlight strategies around finance, innovation, entrepreneurship, international partnerships and more. The report also includes a comprehensive list of federal resources and a toolkit of resources for addressing layoff aversion, surveying dislocated workers and assessing transportation and logistics competitiveness.

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High Performing Economic Development Organizations

Economic Development Organizations (EDOs) are continually challenged to deliver results and improve community competitiveness with tighter budgets and ever decreasing resources. Changing industry and community needs; global economic, social and environmental factors; and the need to balance priorities across public, private and non-profit sectors add further complexity to the situation. Yet, EDOs continue to deliver effectively on their missions and improve the competitiveness of their communities. This paper examines the success factors of high-performing EDOs from both an organizational and leadership perspectives. IEDC's Accredited Economic Development Organizations (AEDOs) have been utilized as case examples to highlight specific traits of high-performing EDOs.

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Unlocking Entrepreneurship: A Handbook for Economic Developers

In an increasingly competitive global marketplace, the capacity of a community's entrepreneurial firms will be the driving force behind economic recovery, job creation, greater resiliency in the face of disasters, and regional economic transformation. For economic developers charged with job and wealth creation in their communities, the significance of entrepreneurship requires them to adapt their practice to focus on access to tools, strategies, networks and institutions that support entrepreneurial firms.

Unlocking Entrepreneurship: A Handbook for Economic Developershas been developed by IEDC under the guidance of its Economic Development Research Partners (EDRP) Program. It introduces economic development professionals to the increasingly urgent need to support entrepreneurship as a necessary strategy, explains what entrepreneurship is and who entrepreneurs are, dissects the essential components of an entrepreneurship ecosystem, and includes a toolkit for practitioners to assess and implement economic development strategies in their communities. Several case studies of entrepreneurial firms as well as organizations that support these businesses provide an insight into the variety of policies and programs out there to support and foster entrepreneurship in a community.

Note: The first three chapters of the handbook were released as a primer in October 2010. These are included in the handbook; the primer is no longer available for download.

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Understanding the Stimulus: An Illustrative Guide to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) is a large federal spending package subject to, understandably, intense public scrutiny. Touted as the key to lessening our recessionary woes while investing in the economic engines of the future, the bill is accompanied by high expectations for both immediate and transformative impacts. This pressure to deliver results is set against a backdrop of rising unemployment, depressed consumer spending, an acute housing slump, a precarious commercial real estate market & projected state and local budget deficits through fiscal year 2011. Economic developers are at the epicenter of generating and measuring sustainable impacts through ARRA programs, and need to be well versed on its nuances.

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Issue Brief: The Role of Economic Developers in Cross-Border Mergers & Acquisitions

Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) of existing US firms account for the vast majority of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) entering the country, surpassing greenfield FDI by both value and deal volume. In recent years, the profile of investor entities has shifted, with more M&A bids originating from emerging economies and government-controlled entities like Sovereign Wealth Funds. Though cross-border M&A may not always be as attractive as Greenfield FDI in terms of job creation and positive-sum economic growth, it is a growing phenomenon which will continue to have significant impacts on US communities.

This issue brief describes the market for foreign M&A into the US, listing the range of impacts communities can anticipate depending on their size, location and industrial composition. Building on a sound understanding of the motivating principles behind M&A, the brief provides a step-by-step guide to the role of economic developers at each stage of an investment transaction. Several case studies provide illustrative examples of the range of M&A deals.

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Primer on Globalization

A guide to the transformational forces shaping the new competitive environment for US communities. Unlike most publications of its kind, the Primer approaches this subject specifically from an economic development practitioner's perspective. The report includes key stats and figures which depict the real and anticipated changes in trade patterns, business practices, global job sourcing and skilled labor supply which are impacting the way economic developers function. This is a dynamic document, updated in May 2009 to reflect current fluctuations in the global economic climate.

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Globalization Case Studies

To catalogue best practices for globally-minded economic development, supporting the internationalization of small businesses, and dealing with the dynamic needs of globally integrated enterprises, IEDC conducted six in-depth case studies. The cases profile the economic development landscape in four US communities of varying sizes and situations, plus the internal strategies of one US economic development organization and one international investment promotion agency. Each case represents a unique set of geographic, economic, demographic and institutional variables and therefore a different path to success. Review the case summaries to determine which case(s) best match your needs.

IEDC Member downloads:

» Case Study Summaries
» Greenville-Spartanburg, SC Full Case
» Akron, OH Full Case
» Cambria County, PA Full Case
» Spokane, WA Full Case
» World Trade Center St. Louis Full Case
» Invest in Sweden Agency Full Case

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Roadmap to Globalization

A set of strategies for globally integrating your community and organization drawn from the case research. The Roadmap presents a scalable model which informs communities of various sizes and economic bases of pathways for connecting to the global market. Use this guide to inform strategic plans and build momentum for a more innovative, sustainable and resilient approach to economic development.

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