Showing Impact: Reporting on Federal Funds for Community Development

Funding associated with federal recovery and investment initiatives has provided unprecedented resources to states and communities. These initiatives are expected to create benefits for people and places across the country. How will these benefits be measured? What metrics will state and local governments use to determine program effectiveness?

The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) recently hosted a webinar in which evaluation experts and program leaders shared their perspectives on metrics that can demonstrate impact.

Bryan Borlik, Director for Performance, Research and National Technical Assistance at the Economic Development Administration (EDA) with the US Department of Commerce, discussed metrics and performance management processes relevant for EDA programs, including the Build Back Better Regional Challenge and the Good Jobs Challenge.

Carmen Molina-Rios, Community Development Specialist with the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, talked about Connecticut’s Defense Manufacturing Community designation, program deliverables, and their work on performance metrics.

Tim Griffith, Senior Research Associate with CREC, discussed performance metrics for workforce development programs, including WIOA reporting requirements as well as other common and emerging workforce development measures.

Panelists each discussed several approaches to data collection and benefits measurement. We provide a few examples here and encourage you to listen to the presentations here for the full discussion.

Categories of external metrics to be collected for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge include:

  • Accelerate innovation in emerging technologies (e.g., patents, R&D)
  • Help new workers access new job opportunities and job training (e.g., # people with upgraded skills, # placements)
  • Increase new business growth and entrepreneurial activity (e.g., # of new businesses, $ private investment)
  • Build critical enabling infrastructure (e.g., creation/renovation of new buildings)
  • Help businesses adopt new technologies and enter new markets (e.g., # participants in accelerators/testbeds)
  • Sustain regional governance (e.g., # of coalitions with bylaws, MOUs, or related documents)

Connecticut wanted to think beyond job counts to show the effect of industry ecosystem development in the state. Outputs and program deliverables for Connecticut’s Defense Manufacturing Community center around workforce and supplier development to strengthen the defense manufacturing industrial ecosystem.  One area of focus is business assistance for process/supply chain enhancement in areas such as cybersecurity, market diversification and new technology adoptions. Output and outcome metrics include:

  • Outputs: # of case studies, # toolkits/playbooks/roadmaps, # webinars and workshops, # of marketing and communication tools, # of companies assisted
  • Outcomes/impacts: $ value of reductions in procurement costs, number of industries with increased cybersecurity maturity levels, number of defense technologies/products improved, and number of new technologies/products developed

The slate of workforce development system outcome measures include Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) metrics but extend to other federal, state and regional workforce programs as well. Metrics include:

  • WIOA performance indicators such as the percentage of program participants who are employed in the second and fourth quarters after exit, the median earnings of employed participants, credential attainment, and other measurable skill gains obtained during program participation
  • The percentage of participants who remained employed with the same employer in the second and fourth quarters after exiting the program is a forthcoming WIOA performance indicator
  • Other common measures are earnings and wages, education and skill gains, employment, public benefit receipt, and education and training completion
  • Emerging measures strive to capture job quality, with metrics related to benefits and leave, hours and scheduling, worker voice and autonomy, job security, working conditions, and skill and career advancement

Smart Incentives was pleased to moderate this CREC webinar, which was supported by the State Economic Development Executives Network and The Pew Charitable Trusts.