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  • Writer's pictureJon Maynard

Without Data, I'm Just a Guy With an Opinion

For more than a century, economic developers have relied on two metrics as the key to demonstrating success; jobs and investment.

Jobs and investment are the two things that you will hear in any conversation when an economic developer talks about the latest deal that they made. I still do it too. It’s hard to NOT talk about these metrics. They sound so perfect for describing success. Unfortunately, as our world keeps evolving, I've come to realize that these traditional objectives don't paint the full picture. To truly catalyze change in our local economies, I've discovered the importance of examining a diverse range of economic factors.

This paradigm promotes the use of extensive, reliable data…measured over time…. to drive intelligent decisions, rather than simply relying on personal opinions or beliefs. Data is now integral to my work and, I believe, the cornerstone of a better approach to economic development. In this age, we're immersed in a sea of data. I've realized this vast resource can be an influential tool in deciphering the dynamics of our world, particularly when we aim to uplift our local economies. Without robust, trustworthy da

ta, we are merely speculating, voicing only an opinion. To make the most effective decisions, we must delve into a multit

ude of factors, extending beyond the confines of jobs and investment.

Consider variables such as population growth, total job growth, workforce size, income per person, median household income, and Gross Domestic Product (GDP). When we

analyze these factors over a period of time, patterns begin to emerge. These patterns, derived from hard data, offer invaluable insights into the right steps to stimulate economic growth. These data are all factors that measure the economy based on things that directly effect the people in our local economy. Making life better for people in our community is the most important part of growth in a local economy. This "People-Based" approach places the emphasis on the individuals who make up the economy. The principle is straightforward: if the people in a community prosper, the economy will follow suit.

Embracing this approach means going beyond jobs

and investment. It also implies improving community life through better education, healthcare, and social services. I've witnessed how prioritizing community wellbeing in this manner can spur a cycle of gr

owth that benefits everyone. I'm firmly convinced that the future of economic development hinges on a diverse array of data and a focus on people's wellbeing. By leaning on data rather than just opinions, I can gain a deeper understanding of our communities. This understanding, in turn, aids in formulating more effective strategies for economic growth. So, isn't it high time we all adopt this new, data-centric, people-first approach in economic development? Data, I've learned, isn't just a tool—it's the foundation of a truly people-based approach.

But maybe that’s just my opinion…..

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