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home : most recent : statewide implications August 20, 2018

8/2/2018 4:13:00 PM
COMMENTARY: Knee-deep in details: A peek at Southern Indiana's economic innovation

Jason Thomas, News and Tribune Assistant Editor

A lot of attention surrounded the Friday release of the latest gross domestic product (GDP) data.

The second quarter increase of 4.1 percent revealed that the economy is growing at a solid pace — a nugget of positive news gleefully touted by President Trump, who has faced a barrage of negative headlines, of his own making, no doubt, over the past several weeks.

What exactly those GDP figures mean for the country’s economic health is the subject of intense debate. What is not up for debate is that the nation’s economy is carried on the backs of local workers and businesses. For every Amazon package that ends up on someone’s doorstep, a worker at a local factory, like the Fulfillment Center in Jeffersonville, initiated the process. 

Southern Indiana’s economic engine is greased by the working class.

How is the region prepped for economic well-being in the years ahead? What are our strengths? Our weaknesses? An online platform could provide some answers.

The Innovation 2.0 Project, powered by StatsAmerica at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, provides a set of web-base analytic tools that measures regional innovation and capacity, which can help leaders form a strategic direction in guiding economic development. Data can also be used to understand a region’s — or county’s — weaknesses, strengths and potential.

The data is organized into a dashboard-like presentation, with Innovation 2.0 encompassing five major index categories: Human Capital and Knowledge Creation Index; Business Dynamic Index; Business Profile Index; Employment and Productivity Index; Economic Well-Being Index.

A “headline” index — the one, high-level summary index — is comprised of the five major categorical indexes organized thematically. Those five major indexes are built up from several core indexes that are built up from dozens of measures in each index, the Innovation 2.0 website states. Think of the headline index as an overall score. You can search data at the county level (there are 3,110 counties in the database); 380 metro areas or 384 economic development districts.

In terms of overall indicators, Clark County has an edge over its neighbor to the west. According to the index Clark County “has high relative capacity for innovation.” Its headline index ranks 497 out of 3,110 counties. Floyd County, according to the database, “has normal relative capacity for innovation,” ranking 1,223 out of 3,110 counties.

Let’s take a closer look at both counties.


In terms of the five major indexes, here’s where Clark County ranks out of the 3,110 counties in the U.S.: Human Capital and Knowledge (1,051); Business Dynamic Index (622); Business Profile Index (276, its highest ranking in the five major categories); Employment and Productivity Index (466); and Economic Well-Being Index (1,473). 

The Business Profile Index, of which Clark County receives a “very high” rating, measures local business conditions and resources available to entrepreneurs and businesses. You have to think that innovative enterprises like Maker13, a makerspace unique to the city the size of Jeffersonville, has to contribute to the county scoring well in this category. It shows that risk can often result in reward.

Clark County’s worst ranking comes in the “proprietorship rate” measurable, where it places 2,726 out of 3,110 counties. This index measures the number of nonfarm proprietors divided by the total number of employed individuals.


In terms of the five major indexes, here’s where Floyd County ranks out of the 3,110 counties in the U.S.: Human Capital and Knowledge (586, its highest ranking in the five major categories); Business Dynamic Index (2,040); Business Profile Index (1,842,); Employment and Productivity Index (1,561); and Economic Well-Being Index (1,211).

Floyd County’s worst ranking among all the indexes and measures comes in Growth in Wage/Salary Earnings per Worker (Average Annual), where it ranks 2,537 out of 3,110 U.S. counties. This measures the average annual rate of change in wage and salary earnings per worker from 2002 to the latest year available, in this case, 2013.

In a report on the Innovation Index prepared for the U.S. Economic Development Administration by the Kelley School of Business, authors of the report wrote that economic development practitioners can use the index “to drill down and get dirty in the data to gain a better understanding about their region’s strengths and weaknesses.”

Let’s hope Southern Indiana’s leaders are knee-deep in the muck and mire.

#YYYY# Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.

Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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