Data Tools for Community and Economic Development

If you love information like I do, you are probably fascinated by the increasingly large data sets we have access to as professionals in all fields. With increasingly large amounts of data comes the challenge of analyzing and organizing it in a way that is useful.

At SECOG, we provide many economic and community development services to our member communities, including project development and funding applications, comprehensive planning, land use planning and zoning, and affordable housing options through SDHDA. Access to data is important to understanding a community and telling a compelling story for community and economic development work and it can also be helpful for preliminary design and research as an architect. Luckily, user-friendly data sets are increasingly more accessible. Even more exciting is that many of these resources are free and you don’t have to be a GIS expert to use them.

I recently learned about three powerful community data tools that provide insight about cities, counties, and regions across the country. These tools provide ways to layer multiple pieces of information for a more wholistic understanding of a place. Some examples presented by the data providers include the ability to layer information to better understand the opioid crisis, to find opportunities for rural innovation and where rural innovation already exists, to create comparative community profiles, to find a list of local employment numbers and pay by occupation and industry clusters, and much more.

Below is a list of the three data tools referenced above, in addition to a link to access free webinars to learn the basic navigation and possibilities of each tool.

Data is powerful, but it is also important to remember there is nuance and real people behind the data. This is another great reason as mentioned on Blueprint South Dakota last week to participate in the 2020 Census!

Headwaters Economic’s Economic Profile System

The Center on Rural Innovation’s Rural Opportunity Map

Indiana Business Research Center’s Stats America Tool

Webinar’s provided by the National Association of Development Organizations

3 Replies to “Data Tools for Community and Economic Development”

  1. Thank you Sara. I have been around for quite a while and have not understood SECOG as well as I do now. Keep up the good work.
    Mark Aspaas AIA NCARB

  2. I love data too and researching rural practice has led me to reviewing data sets but I had not come across these. Thank you for sharing!

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