Guest Blog Post: Bob Farley On Navigating A Changing Local Economy

New streams of data open up smarter paths forward

Using eIMPACT's job postings data dashboard lets us shed light on Grapevine's rapidly changing economy. We are going from the tightest labor market ever to one where each week brings more shift and need to adjust. Without these data and insights we'd be flying blind."
Bob Farley, Economic Development Director
Grapevine, TX

Working as an economic development leader during the last recession wasn't easy. We saw project after project stall while revenues in the community dropped. The good times that were rolling suddenly screeched to an abrupt halt, and the business community was stunned into a contraction mindset.

Being more than 10 years in the past the recession of 2008-2009 was a lot different era from a data and technology standpoint. The tools available back then bore little resemblence to the ones we have today. I'm speaking specifically here of the kinds of data and insights we can gain from modern economic and labor market data, which fortunately have leapt ahead in the past several years.

The following are critical attributes of the old vs. new data technologies:

  1. Reliance on goverment sources: we used to be more or less limited to government sources like Census, BLS et al. Now we have data aggregation capabilities spanning numerous sources, from platforms that people and businesses interact with everyday like LinkedIn and more.
  2. Rear-view mirror insights: the government sources mentioned above (as we all know) have significant time lag, rendering them useless in a crisis like the one we're in. We need to know what is happening week-to-week, not what happen a year in the past. Weekly or even daily data updates are now a reality.
  3. Lack of geographic granularity: many datasets from legacy government sources are available in limited geographic areas (like a county when we need a city). We can now drill down to sub-city areas with acceptable accuracy, which give us much more actionable information.

    Going Beyond Data and Into Action
    In Grapevine we are deploying a job postings data dashboard to glean daily insights into our changing labor market. With this data in hand we can align our policy to take actions where they are needed most, build persuasive arugments to make this case, and measure results over time to adjust to ongoing change.

    You can see this dashboard by clicking here.

    This is our starting point, and we aren't spiking the ball in the endzone just yet. But only a month into the crisis we are way ahead of where things stood last time around. Even more importantly we are building a stronger vessel for a successful economy going forward so we can the kinds of outcomes that our businesses and residents want and need to see.

    In the weeks ahead, I'll be contributing more thoughts to this blog, including diving into each of these phases of economic recovery from a project funded by the EDA and managed by IEDC:

    For now, thank you for reading, and take good care out there!

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