On April 26th, the Southland Development Authority (SDA) hosted an enlightening session titled “Economic Impact Revealed: Mastering Measurement.” This exclusive event brought together a select group of experts and practitioners to delve deep into the methodologies of impact analysis through data-driven insights.

The conversation was centered around enhancing our understanding of economic impact by exploring various measurement techniques that go beyond conventional methods. The SDA presented a three-pillar framework that integrates economic modeling, qualitative analysis, and an ecosystem network approach, tailoring these methodologies to the unique needs of the Southland community.

Bo Kemp, SDA CEO, and Mauro Ballesteros, SDA’s Data Science Director

Attendees had the opportunity to learn about the “IMPLAN Cloud Data” platform, which is crucial in quantifying the ripple effects of economic activities and understanding their broader impact through social accounting matrices and local data. This approach helps in predicting the outcomes of new investments and job creation within the community.

Moreover, the event highlighted the SDA’s use of a hedonic-inspired approach to measure qualitative impacts on community well-being. This method includes surveys and interviews to capture the lived experiences of community members, providing a richer understanding of how SDA’s initiatives affect residents’ quality of life.

Bhuvana Ramaswamy, Data Science Team Member

The session also emphasized the importance of fostering an “Ecosystem of Collaboration” where the interconnectedness of local businesses, infrastructure, and residents are leveraged to drive sustainable growth and resilience. This ecosystem approach promotes a collaborative environment where diverse stakeholders work together to address community challenges and enhance local economic prosperity.

The event was not just an academic exercise but a practical workshop that equipped participants with actionable insights and strategies to improve impact measurement and facilitate more informed decision-making for community and economic development. 

This event marked the beginning of a series, with the next scheduled for June. The upcoming mini conference will gather foundation representatives, leaders from local and county governments, and impact evaluation practitioners. It will include a keynote speech on how to leverage data-driven impact analysis. The conference will also showcase practitioners who excel in impact analysis and feature a dialogue with the audience to discuss key lessons learned.