Categories: Data Intermediaries and integrators; regional industries and economies; R&D, innovation, and commercialization

Overview: Much of today’s successful economic growth hinges on attracting or cultivating jobs that characterize the “innovation economy”—firms and occupations relying on talented workers whose skills are based on knowledge, insight, and creativity. Innovation-based economic growth in rural America, however, has long lagged that in the nation’s metropolitan areas.

To address this gap, the U.S. Economic Development Administration sponsored this project to develop new tools to support strategic economic development planning in rural regions.

The goal of this work is to help rural planners and development practitioners assess their region’s comparative strengths and weaknesses with respect to fostering innovation-based growth. While the primary focus of the project was to help rural regional planning, the project’s data and tools are equally well-suited for any type of geographic definition—urban, exurban, metropolitan or user-defined, depending upon the practitioner’s specific need and purpose.

Form: Interactive data tools

Geographic Detail:  County and user-defined multi-county regions.

Key Data Elements:

  • Educational attainment, population characteristics, establishments, employment & wages, housing & households, income, earnings & poverty, labor force (LAUS)
  • County-level data on 15 knowledge-based occupation clusters and 17 industry clusters are also available in this interactive database. Analytical tools help regional planners evaluate public investment decisions in support of economic growth.
  • An Innovation Index reflecting a region’s innovation activity and capacity, together with an interactive database containing the index and its component indicators for every county in the nation

Data Sources:

  • Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. (EMSI)
  • Federal Communications Commission
  • Innovation Economy 360, Decision Data Resources
  • Moody’s economy.com,
  • National Science Foundation
  • U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis
  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • U.S. Census Bureau
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • The Innovation Index uses data from the above government statistical agencies and private, proprietary sources.
  • The industry clusters are built with QCEW and IBRC estimates for undisclosed values
  • The occupation clusters are provided by EMSI and Purdue University

Timeframe: Data span from 2001 to the present, depending on the data series

Frequency: Data are updated when the sources release new data. The Innovation Index is updated periodically.

Access: Free to the public

Potential Uses for Regional Analysis: The mapping tool allows users to easily compare innovation capacity and industry and occupation clusters in different counties and regions—both “official” and user-defined geographic definitions—around the nation. This helps in assessing the relative strengths and weaknesses of the region’s clusters. The drill-down feature for the Innovation Index allows the users to view and download the non-proprietary data used to calculate the index and its components.

For Additional Information:

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