The most comprehensive level of mapping moves beyond identification and gap analysis to provide a deeper understanding of the factors that drive the regional economy. This phase focuses on capturing three additional types of data:
Local leadership perspectives on the value of regional assets to their operations
The linkages between regional assets
The underlying business culture of the local community
By evaluating the specific value of regional assets to local leaders, revealing the networks that exist to leverage those assets, and assessing regional attitudes toward risk and entrepreneurship, regional leaders will develop a strong knowledge base upon which to design or modify a development effort.
Process Overview: To capture this level of region-specific knowledge requires a significant investment. Input should be solicited from civic, business, entrepreneurial, and academic leaders, as well as investors (public, private, and philanthropic) representing major regional organizations, institutions, and companies. The process is best accomplished through a formal information gathering effort that includes:
the distribution of a survey; and
interviews with the key regional stakeholders to better understand and deepen the survey findings.
The survey and additional interviews seek to capture current and future utilization levels of assets, challenges and barriers to utilization, and demand for increased asset creation and investment. They also provide an opportunity to obtain a qualitative evaluation of key assets.
Once the project team has completed the information gathering associated with this level of work, the next step is to review the data for completeness and relevance to the goals of the development initiative. While difficult to forecast, it is important to consider the impact of global trends on the value of regional resources. For example, a particular industry cluster may be operating with impressive profit margins at the present time; however, research may show that global trends suggest a relocation of this industry to other countries. If this is the case, the asset assessment should note a likely diminished value of the enterprise to the region over time.
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