August 3, 2023

EDA Provides Data and Tools to Promote Competitiveness, Innovation and Economic Growth

“Data! Data! Data! I can't make bricks without clay!”

Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Copper Beeches (Arthur Conan Doyle)

As the only federal government agency focused exclusively on U.S. economic development, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) plays a critical role in supporting regional economic development efforts in communities across the nation. An important part of this role is helping to equip economic development practitioners and policymakers with the data and informational tools they need to plan and implement effective strategies for regional innovation, global competitiveness, and economic growth.

From the development of Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDs), to monitoring the progress of economic development projects, to measuring the economic impacts of these projects and the programs through which they are funded, EDA and its Research and National Technical Assistance (RNTA) program partners provide information, data, and technical assistance to help guide your success.

The following examples are illustrative of the extensive array of resources available to you on EDA’s Resource page:

Data and Informational Tools

Economic Resilience and Capacities for Economic Development: The EDA-funded National Economic Research and Resilience Center (NERRC) is an interdisciplinary economic research center at Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne). The NERRC provides practitioners, researchers, and policymakers access to innovative and transparent economic data, research, and analysis to support and strengthen economic development and resilience in communities across the nation, including:

  • The National Economic Resilience Data Explorer (NERDE), a comprehensive tool that brings together a range of publicly available data about local and regional economic conditions, such as information on economic distress, demographics, industry clusters, and the impact of COVID-19 on local economies, to help inform regional economic development plans and initiatives. Additionally, the tool can help potential applicants assess eligibility for EDA assistance.
  • The Economic Development Capacity Index (EDCI), which uses publicly available data to assess critical elements that contribute to a county’s overall economic development capacity relative to the rest of the nation. The tool allows users to access county-level quantitative and qualitative data to measure capacity levels in the categories of Finance, Human Capital, Industry Composition, Infrastructure, and Institutes and Partnerships. The EDCI is meant for a variety of users, such as Economic Development Districts (EDDs) and other local or regional stakeholders, who can access data-driven estimates on strengths and potential areas for growth or maturation across these five capacity areas.

Industry Clusters: EDA partnered with the Harvard Business School’s Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness to create a U.S. Cluster Mapping site, which provides over 50 million open data records on industry clusters and regional business environments in the U.S. to promote economic growth and national competitiveness. This tool can help regions determine how clusters, which are regional concentrations of related industries that make a region uniquely competitive in the global marketplace, are having a measurable impact on their economy and help inform the development of cluster strategies to bolster their economic competitiveness.


Rural Innovation: The Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) and Rural Innovation Strategies, Inc. (RISI) received funding from EDA to think critically about tech-based economic development in rural places across the country. The research focused on the experiences of rural communities in the process of digital economic development, and resulted in the creation of two series of publications: a set of five qualitative case studies to understand the experiences of rural places undertaking digital economic development, and a set of five policy/research briefs to assess the economic factors that are most likely to impact rural places in the U.S. in the coming years.

Urban-Rural Linkages: The National League of Cities (NLC) and the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) partnered with EDA on an RCAP-NLC Rural-Urban Connections Research & Policy Project (PDF) to explore regional best practices in building and strengthening urban-rural economic development linkages. The research provides case studies and recommendations for practitioners to advance an economic connectivity framework that not only drives growth but also contributes to more equitable economies in which all people can participate, prosper and reach their full potential.

Technical Assistance

Advancing Equity and Inclusiveness: EDA funded the New Growth Innovation Network to create an Inclusive Recovery Toolkit to support regional economic development leaders in elevating equity their economic growth initiatives. The toolkit was developed as part of the Inclusive Recovery Initiative, a national program supporting Economic Development Organizations (EDOs) in embedding inclusive and equitable growth strategies into their COVID-19 recovery strategies and their CEDS. This program included a partnership with and research by the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation.

Access to Capital: The Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) and Recast City partnered with EDA to provide direct technical assistance to support EDA’s Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) recipients in building equitable lending strategies through a collaborative approach that focuses on peer-to-peer mentoring. The Equitable Lending Leaders training program is available as an online, at-your-own-pace course, aimed at improving RLF operations and to help with targeting potential borrowers through an equity and inclusion lens.

As your region develops, implements, and measures the impacts of your economic development projects and programs, we hope that EDA’s informational and data tools, along with our technical assistance opportunities, serve as valuable resources. We welcome any feedback on these resources, as well as your ideas for new tools we could offer, as we seek to continuously bolster our data, research, and technical assistance portfolio.

Please send any feedback you may have to [email protected].