Having personally conducted and written more than 75 comprehensive economic impact studies using linear cash flow models for higher education and health care clients over my 16+ year career, I thought it would be interesting to look more closely at how the focus of economic impact reports has changed over the years.
Early in my career, the typical economic impact reports that I was researching and writing for clients showcased the total, direct and indirect business volume, employment and government revenue impacts. I believe many of these university and hospital studies were done mainly as internal barometers for clients to gauge their own spending, to show how much annual tax revenue they pay and to show where the majority of their staff reside. However, the needs of my clients have changed and so has the audience for which economic impact studies are written.
Not only have institutions’ operations become more sophisticated and complex, the environment in which they operate has become much more competitive. Most institutions now are competing for fewer and fewer funding dollars, so opportunities to showcase their institutions’ efforts must be comprehensive and timely. Regardless of the initiative, program or service, clients cannot be shy about letting community stakeholders and residents as well as state legislators know the who, what, when, where and why of their contributions to the local, regional and state economies.
So as an economic impact analyst and consultant, I have worked diligently to meet the needs of my clients. I’ve expanded the comprehensive reports that I research and write to include many more details and aspects of an institution’s operations. The reports still include business volume, employment and government revenue impacts, but now include other impacts that help to establish that institution as an economic engine and anchor within their community. As a result, the economic impact studies that I have worked on more recently have become as much if not more about an institution’s efforts toward workforce development, business spin-offs related to research development and innovation, creating jobs for local workers, and being a strong economic and community development partner.
As an economic impact and research analyst, I have had the pleasure to work with such a distinguished and varied list of clients from universities and health systems such as Pennsylvania State University and Saint Louis University to Mayo Clinic, UPMC and Ohio Medical Colleges and Teaching Hospitals. So, as I continue my career here at Fourth Economy, and with many years of work completed at Tripp Umbach, I look forward to working with clients, old and new, for many more years to come.