By: Amy Holloway, President

Avalanche’s 14th consecutive survey of economic developers, the 2017 ED Index, is now complete, and you’ll be shocked at the results!

Or maybe not.  But, we got your attention.  And, we think you’ll find comfort in knowing that many of your fellow economic developers share perspectives on the health of the economy, prospect activity, and talent.

Confidence rates have more than doubled.  55% of economic developers anticipate the national economy will be “better” or “much better” in 2017 compared to last year’s 26%. But don’t equate that to excitement about federal economic policy. 75% of respondents described national economic policy as “fair” or “poor” (versus 11% “good”).  That said, almost 60% said that the new presidential administration has not yet changed their business development strategies. Wait and see while maximizing today’s prospect pipeline seems to be the m.o. for most EDOs.

Respondents have greater confidence in their local economies, with nearly 70% reporting that they believe their local economies will be “better” or “much better” by January 2018. Goooooo local!

Prospect activity is steady.  Leads, expansions, and prospect visits were up between 2015 and 2016, while the number of corporate announcements stayed the same. Within the Manufacturing industry, Food Processing, Metal/Machining, and Clean Energy sectors experienced the greatest increase in prospect activity over 2015. Within the Services industry, Healthcare, Logistics, and Back Office led the way.  Only 9% of respondents said that closures and layoffs increased in 2016.

Talent is top of mind. Shifting attention to workforce development has been striking since the 2016 ED Index. 90% of survey respondents believe that having a skilled workforce and aligned training programs has become even more important to the site selection process over the past year. When asked what has changed about their economic development activities over the past five years, participants overwhelmingly cited their increased attention to talent development (#1 among 12 factors).

The full 2017 ED Index report is available to those who participated in the survey. However, tune into our Twitter feed over the next week for additional results.

For more information, check out our press release on the 2017 ED Index survey, Economic Development Professionals Optimistic About 2017.

As always, we love hearing your perspectives.  Share your stories with us so we can help you spread the word. And, please keep Avalanche in mind if your community needs help evaluating its workforce, pinpointing its competitive differentiators, or planning its future. We’re here to help!