Summary Background

A Summary Background of the Economic Development Conditions of the Region

A background summary of the region should answer the question, “What have we done?”, and present a clear understanding of the local economic situation, supported by current, relevant data.  The information should be presented in the CEDS in a clear and concise way and be easily understood by the general public.  To that end, and with an eye towards inclusivity and equity, the background summary should include the history of all those who have lived in the region. Incorporating a shared understanding of any wrongs of the past, legacies of distrust between leaders and communities, and systemic barriers to economic prosperity contributes to the transparency needed to build a foundation for action (for more information, see the section on Equity). 

Data featured in the summary background section should be presented in an accessible manner (again see section on Equity) that is disaggregated where possible in order to show how populations have grown in the region, how income differs across race and geography, and how the structure of the economy contributes to economic disparities. Consider, in particular, data that allows for clear and relevant connections to the SWOT analysis and strategic direction.  For example, data analysis revealing that a region’s population is significantly older than the state or U.S. population as a whole is an important finding because it could impact workforce availability. However, it is not necessary to create multiple, detailed tables that break down population by age to prove that point—conserve space in the CEDS by moving that sort of information to an appendix.

Relevant information should be gathered in the following areas that affect the regional economy, as appropriate. In other words, not all of these items need to be addressed at length, especially if they are not relevant to regional conditions or needed to define or substantiate goals, measurable objectives, or specific actions. Identify key trends, make the points briefly and clearly for a summary section, and move other supporting data to an appendix. Relevant information may include:

  • Demographic and socioeconomic data, including the human capital assets of the area and labor force characteristics such as the educational attainment of the working age population;
  • Environmental, geographic, climatic, and cultural (including historic preservation) and natural resource profiles (e.g., mining resources, timber, fisheries, aquaculture, eco-tourism, etc.).  Ideally, an environmental baseline for the area should be developed that identifies any environmental elements that may affect and/or constrain the regional economy. Relevant published literature for the region should be researched and dialogues established with the environmental regulators at the local, state and federal levels (for example: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (UFWS), state environmental agencies, etc.), as well as the State or Tribal Historic Preservation Officer.  Please contact the appropriate EDA regional office for more information and guidance.
  • Infrastructure assets of the area that relate to economic development including water, sewer, telecommunications/broadband, energy distribution systems, transportation modes, etc.;
  • Emerging or declining clusters or industry sectors – and their past, present, and projected impacts on the region’s competitive advantages and ability to build capacity for economic development;
  • Relationship of an area’s economy to that of a larger region or state (including global perspective), with particular regard to local advantages or disadvantages;
  • Factors that directly affect economic performance in the area such as workforce issues; innovation assets; industry supply chains; state and local laws; financial resources; transportation systems; energy costs; business, personal, and property taxes; bonding capacity; land use patterns; and
  • Other factors that relate to economic performance in an area such as housing; health services; educational, cultural and recreational resources; and public safety.

The CEDS should be a vehicle for promoting integration between economic development and other regional plans (including other federally-funded plans), which could include, but not be limited to, sustainability, transportation (e.g., Metropolitan Transportation Plan, Transportation Improvement Program), land use, housing, environmental protection, natural resource management and development, workforce development, disaster resilience, or others.

The CEDS should also identify opportunities for the integrated use of other local, state, private, and federal funds.  The nature and extent of the integration between regional plans and funding streams will vary based on the unique circumstances of each CEDS region, but every effort should be made to leverage scarce resources to avoid duplication and increase impact.

In addition, the research should include a review of the long-term trends of the area to gain a more complete understanding of how the region’s current economic situation has been shaped over time by national and global forces.

Recommended Resources: Data sources include the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis ( and the U.S. Census Bureau ( In particular, the Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) program provides information combining federal, state and Census Bureau data on employers and employees ( It includes statistics on employment, earnings, and job flows at detailed levels of geography and industry and for different demographic groups. Census’ OnTheMap tool ( is a web-based mapping and reporting application that shows where workers are employed and where they live. It also provides companion reports on items such as age, earnings, industry distributions, and educational attainment. In addition, for communities with a focus on manufacturing, Census’ Investing in Manufacturing Communities Data Tool provides information on supply chains, workforce, research and innovation, and trade assets (

Other sources include the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (, including the Occupational Outlook Handbook (; state, tribal, and local governments; and universities. EDA-funded University Centers may serve as valuable resources in providing and analyzing the necessary data as well. In addition, this section may benefit from leveraging EDA-funded data tools, such as the U.S. Cluster Mapping Tool ( and STATS America ( Most EDD regions do not align with standard, federally-defined regions, such as metropolitan statistical areas. Most EDD regions are pre-loaded into STATS America, which makes collecting and aggregating data for multiple counties unnecessary. Information should also draw from any relevant and recent studies available.