Suggestions on How to Use the EOM Tool

There are many ways to use the Economic Opportunity Mapping (EOM) Tool to spur discussion among community or economic development professionals. We provide suggestions for their use here, but of course you should feel empowered to use them how you see fit in your community or communities. The maps may also be helpful to economic development professionals or bankers to conceptualize which types of businesses may be successful in a particular region.

Data can serve to enhance community and economic development planning efforts and goals, and communities increasingly expect to have data presented as part of economic development efforts. The EOM maps can improve over simply presenting static data by providing maps with which community members can interact.

The EOM Tool also put a county’s or region’s economic development into a larger regional or state context. Extension professionals can select states on the map (clicking on the map) to help community members understand how their counties differ for other similar counties or regions.

Suggestions for Extension professionals:

  • Organize an inclusive community meeting.
    • This publication describes some best practices for getting the community involved in economic development efforts.
    • This publication describes some best practices for inclusive community assessments.
  • Guide community members by highlighting the significant variables in a county, region, or state, but encourage them to bring laptops and interact with the maps, if possible.
  • Which industries seem to be exceeding the model’s expectations? Are there significant variables that seem to play a role?
  • Note how variables compare to other similar or proximate regions.
    • Be sure to define less-known concepts like social capital. We use a rough measure of this ethereal concept. For more details see the methodology page.
  • Think about which industries are doing well too. Why are they exceeding the model’s expectations?
  • Can we make any generalizations about the broader industry definitions? For example, can we generalize about how retail is doing in an area?
  • Note that for accessibility, the map data are downloadable using a link on the lower-right corner of the embedded map.
  • Note that there are three main potential sources of errors in this data: the data is from 2014 and conditions may have changed; the data necessarily include estimations resulting from partially suppressed county-level industry data; the definitions of industries are based in part on self-reported industry, which is sometimes wrong. For example, a general store could be misclassified as a grocery store.
    • These errors should not be used to dismiss findings or trends, but should be noted.
    • Local knowledge is the best solution to potential errors. Use potential errors to motivate local involvement.


Economic Opportunity Maps Methodology

For more information, see PDF resources:
User’s Guide     Discussion Guide     Methodology     FAQs

Funding for this project was provided by the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture Grant # 2017-67023-26242.

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