New data-driven tool will better define economic progress and help inform strategies for growth
Team NEO launched the Vibrant Economy Index at its annual ED NOW! event for elected officials and economic development professionals. The Vibrant Economy Index, or VEI, is a new tool that uses an expanded dataset in six categories – talented, equitable, innovative, resilient, competitive and prosperous – to offer a more detailed, nuanced and accurate measure of the Northeast Ohio Region’s economy and individual prosperity.
Team NEO’s research team began researching the concept of the Vibrant Economy Index in 2019 with the goal of developing a tool to help inform solutions and strategies that support economic growth and address disparities in economic opportunities and outcomes.
“Despite the progress Northeast Ohio’s economy has made over the past two decades, many of our residents continue to face systemic barriers to careers with family-sustaining wages and opportunities to thrive,” said Jacob Duritsky, vice president of research and strategy at Team NEO. “Traditionally, we’ve measured our economy primarily using growth-oriented metrics. Measuring our economy only at that macro level can mask specific challenges and opportunities to economic growth and prosperity. Highlighting measures relating to key factors that impact growth and prosperity enhances our community’s opportunity to create a more vibrant economy through better aligned economic development initiatives.”
Working with several partners in the Northeast Ohio Region’s economic development network, Team NEO gathered input on the categories and individual data points in the VEI, as well as gauged support for the VEI as a tool. Moving forward, Team NEO will continue to work with its partners to update the VEI and create alignment for economic development strategies that create vibrancy.
“Achieving a vibrant economy isn’t a one-time thing – it is a long-term commitment to increasing competitiveness and prosperity through equitable outcomes,” said Bill Koehler, chief executive officer of Team NEO. “As we embrace the thinking behind the VEI and use the data to help inform our strategies and drive investment, we will see improvements in the measurement of talent, equity, innovation, and resilience. And when we see improvement there, will begin to drive better outcomes making our economy more competitive and our people more prosperous.”
The VEI will track economic performance in the 18-county region of Northeast Ohio, as well as 12 metropolitan areas in three categories:
- Aspirational: These markets (Austin, Boston, New York, San Francisco) are widely recognized as top markets in the United States.
- Competitive: Competitive metros (Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Houston) are those that the Northeast Ohio Region frequently competes with for business attraction and expansion.
- Nearby: These locations (Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh) are economies in Ohio and neighboring states that are frequently used for comparative purposes.
In addition to traditional economic metrics like employment and gross regional product, the VEI includes data points such as unemployment by race and gender, educational attainment, poverty rates, cost of living, broadband access, access to alternative fuel stations, frequency of natural disasters, median home value, and many others.
“The Vibrant Economy Index is going to challenge us – it will challenge how we think about the structure of our regional economy, have competitive we are, who benefits from its progress, and how we can impact success over time. It will challenge us to create new solutions and aligned strategies that improve our competitiveness and individual prosperity,” said Koehler. “But it also presents an opportunity for us to push towards aspirational outcomes and celebrate the gains we make along the way.”
For more information, visit vei.teamneo.org.
About Team NEO
Team NEO is a private, nonprofit economic development organization accelerating business growth and job creation throughout the 18 counties of the Northeast Ohio Region. As the designated JobsOhio Network Partner, we align and amplify local economic development efforts in the region’s 18-counties; we conduct research and data analysis to inform local conversations and influence solutions; we market the Northeast Ohio Region; and we work to increase access to jobs, education, and training for the region’s 4.3 million people. We do this to build a more vibrant regional economy; one that is more talented, equitable, competitive, innovative, resilient, and prosperous. For more information, visit teamneo.org.
About ED NOW
ED NOW! is a workshop to support elected officials and other economic development professionals in their efforts by providing information about economic development strategies, resources, programs, funding and opportunities. ED NOW is brought to participants by Team NEO, JobsOhio, and the Ohio Economic Development Association (OEDA).