March 19, 2020, by Erik Larson

Local Economy Data is Critical for Planning

A dashboard to measure impact, generate a plan and register recovery

Driving down the main street in my hometown (a community of just over 3,000 an hour from a major U.S. city) the storefronts and small office buildings tell the story of our time. About one half of retailers are open, half of offices are dark, dine-in restaurants are shut, take-away restaurants are open (some have even pivoted to this business model) – and at the end of the street...the grocery store.

In the grocery store things seem to be keeping up pretty well, except for a few gaping holes. Toilet paper (can anyone offer an explanation on this one?), pasta, grains of any kind, nearly every dairy product, and of course hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol, are 100% gone.

But when you take inventory of this all, at least on the surface level, we're keeping life as a community together. Even with the holes. Everyone's question remains, how long can we maintain and what does this mean for my/our future?

This is not a time to fly blind when it comes to the numbers. We need to know what the latest snapshot of our community looked like before the virus came in terms of employment, key industries, retail, housing and more. Then we need to start measuring everything we can about the real-time situation: job opening trends, unemployment, wages.

With this, we can start to get creative. We can feel less anxiety of not-knowing and start knowing all that we can in order to make a smart plan forward.

Here's a few examples:

Billings, MT

Scroll frame to see full dashboard

Mt. Pleasant, TX

Arvada, CO

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