Research and Evaluation

Through the Research and National Technical Assistance Program, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) funds critical economic development research and resources that shape economic development policies and inform economic development decision-making. It also encompasses program evaluations to discover and assess the impact of previously funded projects.

Assessment and Evaluation

Understanding the Economic Development Administration’s Investments and Impacts

Urban Institute, 2021
This research examines EDA’s funding allocations and grantmaking programs, the agency’s history and goals, the attributes of communities receiving EDA investments, and the extent to which EDA investments spur local economic growth.

Evaluation of the EDA Regional Innovation Strategies Program 2014-2017 (PDF)

Fourth Economy, 2019
EDA completed a program evaluation in 2019 to determine whether the program is achieving its goals and to determine ways the program can improve. The evaluation concluded that EDA’s implementation of the RIS Program “has provided critical funding that would have otherwise been impossible for participants to raise and access” and “should be continued as a vital catalyst for supporting state and regional innovation.” For more information on each individual program and the overall program impacts, please view the executive summary and full reports below.

The Logic of Economic Development: A Definition and Model for Investment (PDF)

University of North Carolina, 2014
This research report discusses how to understand, measure, and analyze economic development. It begins by defining economic development and then considers the role of government, arguing that public policy should focus on building capacities that are beyond the ability of the market to provide.

EDA i6 Program: Assessment & Metrics (PDF)
EDA JIAC Program: Assessment & Metrics (PDF)

SRI International; University of North Carolina, 2014
These program evaluations provide the results of field-based research that will produce expanded and more robust measures of capacity building for innovation-based firms, technical assistance providers, and start-ups. The reports also establish the role of government investments in creating and enhancing worker and firm capabilities and firm growth and competitiveness.

Making Connections, Evaluation Project to Assess Best Practices in EDA’s University Center Program (PDF)

SRI International, 2014
This program evaluation and report on the EDA University Centers includes best practices for University Center services while highlighting successes stories.

Best Practices Research

Community Economic Diversification Roadmap

Smart Growth America (SGA), 2023
The Community Economic Diversification Roadmap illustrates how communities can strengthen and grow their economic base throughout the energy transition lifecycle. Following this roadmap can help make communities more resilient to potential future economic shocks by diversifying their local economies.

Inclusive Recovery Toolkit

New Growth Innovation Network (NGIN), 2023
This toolkit is intended to support regional economic development leaders in elevating equity within their organization, planning and CEDS development, and strategy and implementation as they approach recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This guide highlights examples and best practices from more than 35 Economic Development Districts (EDDs) and Organizations in more than 20 states across the country.

Innovative Finance Playbook

Blueprint Local, 2023
The goal of this Playbook is to help diverse founders and funders understand the breadth of resources, details of types of innovative models, and the best ways to support inclusive entrepreneurship.

It includes topics such as: promising innovative financial products that can iterate and scale to better reach more entrepreneurs, moving beyond the strict dichotomy of debt and equity products, overly narrow risk and growth profiles, to more flexible and even sector-specific possibilities and opportunities for impactful investment.

Disaster Recovery – Leadership in a Time of Crisis

International Economic Development Council (IEDC), 2022
This updated toolkit provides strategies and tactics for community leaders to focus on economic recovery and preserving jobs, incorporating useful information for convening private and public stakeholders to identify key economic recovery strategies, tips on how to navigate federal resources for response and recovery, and implementation of recovery initiatives. IEDC first released the Leadership in a Time of Crisis toolkit in 2015; the 2022 edition has been updated to include information about pandemic response and resilience.

What We’ve Learned from Covid-19

International Economic Development Council (IEDC), 2022
What We’ve Learned from Covid-19, is the culmination of an 18-month research project tracking the pandemic responses of eight communities. In addition to an analysis of the communities, and a profile of each, the paper includes the nine best and most promising practices that economic development organizations can implement to become more resilient, especially to pandemics.

What Works in Rural: Strategies for Rural Economies in the Age of Automation

Rural Innovation Strategies, Inc., 2022
Future-focused economic development in rural America is evaluated in these two series of publications: one set of five qualitative case studies to understand the experiences of rural places undertaking digital economic development and another 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.

Developing Regional Economic Connectivity: Key Factors and Strategies for Urban and Rural Communities – Brief (PDF)
Developing Regional Economic Connectivity: Key Factors and Strategies for Urban and Rural Communities – Full Report (PDF)

Rural Assistance Community Partnership (RCAP); National League of Cities (NLC), 2021
Urban and Rural areas perform better and boost each other’s economies when they participate in their regional economies. Yet, while connecting to regional economies has been proven to benefit communities, less is known about the assets that communities need to help them connect. This study identifies four main factors that drive local economic connectivity and recommendations to advance more equitable economies in which all people can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.

Revolving Loan Fund Learning Center 

Council for Development Finance Agencies, 2020
This Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) Program learning center includes resources, best practices, and a network of RLF operators.

Socioeconomic Impacts from Nuclear Power Plant Closure and Decommissioning Host Community Experiences, Best Practices and Recommendations

The Nuclear Decommissioning Collaborative, 2020
This report focuses on the socioeconomic impacts of nuclear closure and decommissioning and explores ways host communities have responded to job loss and a corresponding reduction in tax revenues. It also examines how stakeholders (at the local, state and federal levels) view the nuclear plant closure and decommissioning process, and how this evolving understanding is shaping their ability and desire to improve project outcomes by playing a more constructive role in the decommissioning process.

Small Scale Manufacturing & Place Based Development

Smart Growth America; Recast City, 2017
This whitepaper builds the case for why economic development practitioners should be working with small-scale manufacturers, how to grow the sector, and the synergies that are created when locating these businesses in downtowns and mixed-use centers.

Communities that Work Partnership Playbook (PDF)

The Aspen Institute, 2016
This playbook presents the work of seven regional partnerships engaged in the Communities That Work Partnership (CTWP), organized as “plays.” The plays describe strategies that are useful to create talent development approaches that leverage knowledge, capacity, and resources of not only education, workforce, and economic development providers, but also business partners.

Best Practices in State and Regional Economic Innovation Initiatives: Competing in the 21st Century

The National Academies Press, 2013
The goal of this study is to illustrate the approaches taken by a diverse variety of states as they confront the increasing challenges of global competition for the industries and jobs of today and tomorrow.

Best Practices in Foreign Direct Investment and Exporting Based on Regional Industry Clusters

Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute, 2013
Economic development practitioners need to understand ways to harness their resources more effectively to attract FDI and develop their export potential. This project profiles several useful examples for local communities that may want to introduce initiatives to promote exporting and FDI or already have launched such initiatives and want to make them more effective.

Creating Community and Economic Development Tools for Preserving Working Waterfronts and Waterways (PDF)

The Island Institute, 2013
The Island Institute and six project partners studied working waterfront needs, challenges, and strategies for preservation that cumulated into a research report highlighting their findings.