What Matters To Metros: New Insights Into Regional Growth

<i>What Matters To Metros</i> chart compares regional and national economic growth trends.
What Matters To Metros chart compares regional and national economic growth trends.
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The report titled What Matters to Metros examines a whole host of different economic variables and their relationships with each other in 115 metro areas throughout the country. The data is derived from census reports spanning from 1990 to 2011, and was put together with the aim of discovering how the different variables are associated with economic output, productivity, per capita income and job growth. It's a lot of data, as the report's author, Emily Garr of the Fund for Our Economic Future, points out:

"This is a platform for many many discussions about the economy," Garr says.

She went on to single out just a few of the findings that she says offer important guidance for economic development strategy. For instance, entrepreneurship and self employment are positively associated with all four growth metrics. More higher education and innovation correlate with higher per capita income, productivity, and economic output, but not with job growth, which was somewhat unexpected. And a third finding, says Garr, really raised some eyebrows

"The places we saw increase the most in terms of job growth are some of the poorest places with some of the highest crime and poverty in the country," she says.

"The main message here is that if you just looked at job growth you're only getting a little piece of the picture, that it's not just about jobs, but it's about good jobs."

Brad Whitehead, President of The Fund for Our economic Future, says this series of meetings is just an opening salvo in bringing this data to the wider community. He says it shows Northeast Ohio has begun to - to use his phrase - "turn the ship" from the economic doldrums of the last two decades. And, he says, the fund will continue to reach out to stakeholders across the region.

"Economic development is a team sport, and in order for us to get where we want to get to and need to get to as a region all the players need to be on the field," he says.

That includes universities, public sector officials, chambers of commerce, labor and other groups.

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