Understanding Your Economy

Using Analysis to Guide Local Strategic Planning

By Mary McLean, Kenneth Voytek

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Forward-looking communities have attained a competitive edge by strengthening clusters of related and supporting industries, not courting individual firms. How will your community know which clusters to strengthen as it negotiates this fundamental shift in development strategy? This book shows you how to conduct local economic analysis to support such strategic planning decisions. You'll learn how to use basic economic analysis techniques to analyze changes in the local economy and evaluate the signifigance of these changes for economic development policy.

They show how to structure an analysis; assess local economic performance; analyze the structure and dynamics of a local economy; evaluate local growth prospects; assess local human resources; evaluate nonlabor resources; and link analysis to strategic planning. Understanding Your Economy also includes a summary of data series and sources that will trim hours from your search for information necessary to conduct your analysis.

Understanding Your Economy does not assume an extensive background in statistics or data management. It can serve as a stand-alone manual for anyone who wants to learn more about the functions and dynamics of an area's economy. It's also designed to serve as a text for a two-day seminar. It suggests a format for presenting the materialsùand includes chapter summaries of key concepts as well as a guide to supplemental resources that will help instructors develop a successful workshop. Must reading for all planners dealing with economic development. It is also an appropriate text for undergraduate, graduate, and professional courses in economics, public policy, and urban planning.

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Date Published
Oct. 1, 1992
APA Planners Press

Table of Contents



1. Overview of strategic planning
The strategic planning process • Role of economic analysis • Chapter overview

2. Structuring the analysis: Concepts and issues
Selecting the unit of analysis • Selecting a time period for analyzing trends • Selecting variables and data elements • Establishing a frame of reference • Acquiring, updating, and manipulating data

3. Assessing economic performance and condition
Measuring economic performance and condition • Comparing economic performance and condition • Summary

4. Analyzing the structure and dynamics of a local economy
Examining industrial structure and patterns of growth • Identifying the local economic base and industry specializations • Comparing industry growth performance: Shift-share analysis • Summary

5. Evaluating local growth prospects • Industry targeting analysis: Assessing competitiveness • Example: Cook County Target Industry Study • Examining the business base • Analyzing economic geography • Summary: Drafting a mission statement

6. Profiling local human resources
Labor availability • Labor force quality • Labor force costs • Summary

7. Evaluating nonlabor resources
Location theory and competitive advantage • Assessing factor conditions • Summary

8. Linking analysis and planning: Strategy development
Strategic planning: Participants and sequencing of activities • Formulating strategy • The action plan: Moving to implementation • Monitoring and updating the plan


Appendix A: Metropolitan area definitions

Appendix B: Data sources

Appendix C: Standard industrial classification system

Appendix D: Two-day training seminar format