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Dr. Larry Johnson
Dalton State College, School of Business
When Northwest Georgia went through a tough recession a few years ago, Dr. Larry Johnson wanted to find a way to help the business community by learning what industry existed in the area.
Johnson, Dean of Dalton State College’s School of Business, began using Harvard Business School’s U.S. Cluster Mapping tool, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration, to help economic planners, community leaders and business leaders respond better to industrial trends.
And U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker noticed. During a speech on July 14, 2014 at the 2014 Esri International User’s Conference in San Diego, Secretary Pritzker lauded Dalton State’s School of Business for its use of the data provided through the cluster mapping program.
“To see how this tool is already yielding benefits, we can look to Dalton, Ga., where Dalton State College is using mapping data to analyze regional business clusters,” Secretary Pritzker said in her speech. “They dug into layers of economic information and uncovered new details about key sectors, from chemical manufacturing to building materials to transportation infrastructure. All told, Dalton unlocked a new set of data to inform its economic development strategy.”
“These data are being put in the hands of local officials, who are using the information to make strategic investments, recruit new companies, and lay the groundwork for new industries,” she continued. “In short, whether in Georgia or across the country, our cluster-mapping tool gives us the ability to reinvent and modernize economic development strategies.”
Johnson publishes the regional data he collects from the cluster maps in Business Analytics, a publication of the Center for Economic Research and Entrepreneurship of Dalton State’s School of Business. The publication circulates to a large number of business leaders, community and economic developers, public officials and entrepreneurs, and it is available online at daltonstate.edu/cere/business-analytics.html.
The U.S. Cluster Mapping tool provided critical data on the transportation and logistics sector, which supports the industries in Northwest Georgia, and helped to raise an awareness of the importance of this infrastructure to the region. This information will inform the business community, entrepreneurs, and community leaders about the broader opportunities that exist in and around Northwest Georgia.
Johnson’s analysis of the data shows the region is home to much chemical processing, large construction machinery and transportation, as well as the textile industry. This information can be used by others to aid counties and cities in making strategic decisions about infrastructure and tax exemptions, for example.
“This is an international recognition,” Johnson said of Secretary Pritzker’s statements. “It’s nice to know what we’re doing here can be valuable information. We want to make sure the region is aware of what industry we have and what we can do.”
Read more (Chatsworth Times - Dalton State School of Business praised for data use)
Lee Munnich, Jr.
Senior Fellow and Director, State and Local Policy Program
University of Minnesota, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
The State and Local Policy Program of the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs has used the U.S. Cluster Mapping tool for a project for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development with the Minneapolis-St. Paul Regional Council of Mayors to lay the groundwork for a regional economic development strategy. As part of this effort, mayors from the Regional Council conducted CEO-to-CEO conversations with business leaders, which helped set priorities for developing workforce talent, promoting more efficient regulations, and investing in regional infrastructure.
The Humphrey School also used the U.S. Cluster Mapping data to map out the most competitive clusters in 25 metropolitan and micropolitan regions in Minnesota. This data was then used to select 15 regional clusters for in-depth analysis of transportation-related issues and to provide recommendations to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) on enhancing regional economic competitiveness. This current study will help to frame MnDOT planning, freight, intermodel investment, and transportation/economic development policies, as well as address specific transportation concerns of businesses in these clusters.
Other key outcomes from the Humphrey School's transportation work include:
- A study for the BNSF Foundation on the role of rail transport to the Minnesota economy, which demonstrates the importance of rail transport to the Minnesota and Midwestern economy, for key clusters such as agricultural products, processed food, forest products, and mining.
- Interviews with manufacturing firms and carriers for MnDOT District 8 in Southwest Minnesota, which helped the Minnesota Department of Transportation to prioritize road projects and address construction scheduling and road surface, snowplowing and communications issues with key traded clusters in the region.
Former Executive Director
As Executive Director of New Carolina, Laura McKinney was responsible for developing a strategy to strengthen the economic competitiveness of South Carolina. In particular, she was interested in how clusters are steering the state’s economy and having a measurable impact on its success. Working with New Carolina’s executive committee and task forces, Laura used the U.S. Cluster Mapping website as a one-stop source for cluster and regional data. The website is unique in that it provided her with the metrics to benchmark the outcomes of South Carolina clusters against those of clusters in other states. By using this tool, she was able to identify South Carolina’s most competitive industries and apply this analysis to developing a state-wide strategic framework for economic growth in South Carolina. Laura's team is now better positioned to take the next step in advancing the competitive position of South Carolina in the national economy.