Key Definitions

As employed and understood in EDA’s Performance Measurement and Program Evaluation Methods

Economic Development: creates the conditions for economic growth and improved quality of life by expanding the capacity of individuals, firms, and communities to maximize the use of their talents and skills to support innovation, lower transaction costs, and responsibly produce and trade valuable goods and services.

Economic Development Capacity Building: developing or improving community assets that businesses need to succeed.

Economic Resilience: in the context of economic development, economic resilience becomes inclusive of three primary attributes: the ability to recover quickly from a shock, the ability to withstand a shock, and the ability to avoid the shock altogether.  Establishing economic resilience in a local or regional economy requires the ability to anticipate risk, evaluate how that risk can impact key economic assets, and build a responsive capacity.  Often, the shocks/disruptions to the economic base of an area or region are manifested in three ways:

  • Downturns or other significant events in the national or international economy which impact demand for locally produced goods and consumer spending;
  • Downturns in particular industries that constitute a critical component of the region’s economic activity; and/or
  • Other external shocks (a natural or man-made disaster, closure of a military base, exit of a major employer, the impacts of climate change, etc.).

For more information, please visit the CEDS Economic Resilience page.

Performance Measurement: the ongoing monitoring and reporting of program accomplishments, particularly progress toward pre-established goals. It is typically conducted by program or agency management. Performance measures may address the type or level of program activities conducted (process), the direct products and services delivered by a program (outputs), or the results of those products and services (outcomes). A “program” may be any activity, project, function, or policy that has an identifiable purpose or set of objectives. 1

Program Evaluation: entails individual systematic studies conducted periodically or on an ad hoc basis to assess how well a program is working. They are often conducted by experts external to the program, either inside or outside the agency, as well as by program managers. A program evaluation typically examines achievement of program objectives in the context of other aspects of program performance or in the context in which it occurs. Four main types can be identified (process evaluation, outcome evaluation, impact evaluation, and cost-benefit and cost effectiveness evaluation), all of which use measures of program performance, along with other information, to learn the benefits of a program or how to improve it. 2

Jobs: EDA defines jobs as those created or retained by employers or by firms that benefit directly from services provided by the EDA-funded facility or project.

EDA grantees report on direct or directly-attributable jobs, including subsequent employers that locate or expand in the project area as a result of the project. For some projects (e.g., roads, water and sewer lines), direct jobs may include those created by firms that were not originally anticipated as part of the project but required the facility or service provided by the EDA project in order to locate or expand in the area.

Only permanent and direct jobs are counted in EDA reporting. Temporary jobs, including those related to construction, are not included. EDA grantees are instructed to convert part-time jobs into full-time equivalents (e.g., the total part-time hours worked per week divided by the hourly work week for full-time employees, normally 35-40 hours).

Jobs Created:  Private sector jobs created by businesses and other project beneficiaries as a result of the EDA project.

Jobs Retained: Private sector jobs retained as a result of the EDA project.

    Private Investment Leveraged: the total dollar amount of private sector investment made because of the EDA grant, including new plant and equipment. Private sector contributions to project construction or loan fund capitalization is not considered private investment leveraged.

    Indicator: a quantitative or qualitative variable that is used to represent an associated (but non-measured or non-measurable) phenomena. For example, consumer price index (CPI) is often used as an indicator to assess the general cost of living at a certain point in time.

    A more specific example of an indicator from a programmatic performance measurement standpoint, on the other hand, would be firm creation as an indicator of program’s conduciveness to economic dynamism in a region.

    Metric: provides context to an indicator by drawing a comparison, such as change over time or a comparison against a benchmark or baseline. An increase of 0.5% in CPI in September 2017 is an example of a metric used for quantitative assessment of economic conditions.

    An example of a programmatic metric would be a number of additional firms (e.g., start-ups) that formed as a result of services (e.g., access to state-of-the-art equipment or facilities) funded by a grant.

    Innovation: EDA defines innovation as the creation of new products, services or processes, or the recombination of existing products, services or processes in new ways that add value. Importantly, innovation can occur in any sector, and within all aspects of the economic development ecosystem.

    Regional Clusters: are geographic concentrations of firms, workers and industries that do business with each other and have common needs for talent, technology, and infrastructure. Regional clusters are essentially networks of similar, synergistic, or complementary entities that are engaged in or with a particular industry sector; have active channels for business transactions and communication; share specialized infrastructure, labor markets, and services; and leverage the region’s unique competitive strengths to stimulate innovation and create jobs. Regional clusters may cross municipal, county, and other jurisdictional boundaries.

    Regionalism: a series of coordinated economic development activities related to a comprehensive economic development strategy for a given geographic region.”  A region is a multi-jurisdictional unit (which may cross political boundaries) based on economic and demographic patterns that cross municipal and state boundaries.

    Technology Readiness Level Framework: a nine-point scale tool used to measure the progress of a particular technology from basic science to operational application (whether in a commercial, military, or science setting).

    1Government Accountability Office (GAO) (PDF)

    2. ibid.