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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Economic institute director advises community assessments in recent publication

Mark S. Goodman, director of the Center for Economic Development Education at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, was published in the February International Institute for Municipal Clerks news digest.

Goodman’s article, “Community Assessment Inventory for Economic Development,” discusses ways community leaders may better evaluate their community’s economic viability.

To invenMark Goodmantory their communities, leaders should be asking questions such as whether someone should invest in business there, how competitive the community is on a global scale, and what sets it apart from other markets?

“In economic development, we’re constantly faced with these questions from prospective and existing businesses, industry, and citizens,” said Goodman.

“Addressing the situation and determining strengths and weaknesses are components of a community assessment for economic development.”

Goodman said a comprehensive assessment is critical to a community and is one of several offerings at the Center for Economic Development Education at UALR’s Institute for Economic Advancement.

The assessments typically include a combination of community economic analysis, objective information inventorying, and subjective data collection through surveys, focus groups, and face-to-face interviews.

“Assessments help prepare for opportunity, play to strengths, and identify any impediments,” he said. “A comprehensive assessment identifies both the positive and difficult issues. After all, a community will want to accentuate the positives and plan to address any negatives.”

Goodman said it makes sense for communities to conduct an assessment ahead of a strategic planning effort. However, communities could utilize the information as a part of their marketing and business development efforts.

“A regularly–updated community assessment can be a valuable economic development tool,” he said.

Persons interested in community assessments may call 501.569.8519, or visit iea.ualr.edu.