EMSI for Economic Developers, Part 1: Using Analyst for Site Selection Requests

EMSI BEST PRACTICE (See Part 2 here)

Note: This is the first in a series of articles on using EMSI’s Analyst for economic development in conjunction with the Dayton Development Coalition, a regional economic development and advocacy organization that serves a 14-county region centered in Dayton, Ohio.

When Kim Frazier and John Owen at the Dayton Development Coalition work on a site selection project, they have a single, overarching goal: try to make the most compelling data-driven case for the Dayton region.

Their research often starts by logging on to EMSI’s Analyst to gather critical labor market statistics and compare Dayton and the Coalition’s 14-county region to other competitive markets. “We use it all the time,” says Frazier, the executive director of strategic analytics and evaluation at the Coalition.

Frazier and Owen walked us through the steps they most often take with Analyst to respond to site selectors — something they’re doing more of with the Coalition part of the JobsOhio network. They emphasized that most site selection projects are different, thus the metrics they use differ from case to case. Nonetheless, this best-practice piece sketches out the most common data and analytical pieces they include in a standard response.

1. The Industry Perspective

Industry Concentration

The first step for Frazier and Owen is almost always to gather location quotient (LQ) data to find the relative regional concentration of the specific industry that best captures the business activity of the prospective employer. This provides context beyond raw job numbers for employers looking to relocate or expand in the area, and it shows how unique (or specialized) the industry is in Dayton or the broader region. “Our region is pretty big,” Frazier says, “so we might look at counties where an industry is more concentrated.”

If particular counties — or even clusters of counties — have higher concentrations of a specific industry, they may create a different “region” to highlight the industry strength, the existing workforce, and the potential supply chain that exists within that sub-region.

Job Growth

Is the industry growing or shrinking in the area? That’s an important question Frazier and Owen ask when filling out a site selector’s data request. If EMSI data shows the sector is declining, they usually move on and won’t include the job change, unless the industry is shrinking at a slower rate than the national average. But if there’s good growth in the area — either by total volume of new jobs or by percentage growth — they’ll make sure to highlight it.

Unemployment by Industry

EMSI provides the number and percentage of the unemployed by industry super-sector. This information has proven valuable, Owen says, to prospective employers who want to get a sense of the available workforce in the sector (or sectors) that relate to their work.

Looking at Other Industries

Expanding the labor market data search beyond the specific industry that the business is in can be enlightening, Owen says. This indicates if the labor pool for an occupation reaches more than just the targeted industry. “Knowledge spillovers in related industries or industries with similar staffing patterns may also be beneficial to a company’s selecting our region,” Owen notes.

Further, this expanded look allows the Coalition to give site selectors a sense if local businesses in another industry with a similar staffing pattern could provide some sort of service (e.g., IT work, project management, etc.) to the prospective firm.

2. The Occupation Perspective

Staffing Patterns

Moving back and forth between industries and the occupations that staff those industries is an important step in filling out site selection requests, and something that’s easy to do with Analyst. Specifically, this step in the data-gathering process gives selection firms the regional occupation mix for the targeted industry.

Once Frazier and Owen run the staffing pattern report in Analyst, they typically show the concentration of those workers (similar to the first part of Step 1, only at the occupation level) in the Dayton metro or for each county in the region.

Wage Comparison

“Wage comparisons are huge for us,” Frazier says. “Ohio is lower in almost everything. This allows us to show how competitive we are.”

Frazier and Owen normally provide the percentile earnings breakdown for a list of relevant occupations, showing 10th percentile (or entry-level wages), 50th percentile (median wages), and 90th percentile (advanced wages).

3. The Education Pipeline

Completers from Related Educational Programs

After Frazier and Owen have summarized the industry and occupation perspective, there’s one final step: looking at the educational completers in the region that relate to the relevant occupation or occupations. This data gives site selectors the historic (back to 2003) and recent supply of graduates from local colleges who could be good candidates for the jobs that the employer needs to fill.

To access a PDF version of this best practice, click here.

For more on how economic developers use Analyst, see this page or read our economic-development-focused case studies here. For further information or questions, contact Josh Wright at jwright@economicmodeling.com or (208) 883-3500.

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