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Extension > Leadership and Civic Engagement Alumni > Data Tools for Starting Community Development Conversations in Your Community

Friday, August 5, 2016

Data Tools for Starting Community Development Conversations in Your Community



Have you ever wanted to open a conversation about the potential development opportunities in your community, but lacked data that supports your idea? Below are a few data resources that could help trigger conversations in your community regarding its future. They are very broadly grouped into tools that can be used to start conversations about health, workforce and resident recruitment, and poverty and income issues in your community. The best way to start these conversations is to take a data point from one of these resources and ask your local elected officials if they are aware of that statistic. If they were not aware of it, the next step is to ask what could be done to increase awareness about it or address it.  If you are a public official, you can bring these data points to the attention of your fellow officials or staff to initiate conversations about the results.

The important thing to remember though is that once you start the conversation, don’t let it stop. The more people think and converse about an issue, the more likely a solution can be found. Another thing to keep in mind is that these data points can be tracked over time and used monitor progress towards envisioned change. The sources for much of this data are federal or state agencies like the U.S. Census, US Bureau of Labor Statistics, or Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. To facilitate more in-depth conversations on these topics or dig deeper into the economic effects of issues in your local community, you can also tap in to the services offered by the Community Economics Program of the University of Minnesota. Whatever your developmental idea is, we hope that the resources provided below can help it blossom into a community conversation that engages your public officials, neighbors and friends as well.

Tools for Health Conversations

(Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)

(University of Michigan)

Tools for Workforce, and Resident Recruitment Conversations

(Minnesota Employment and Economic Development)

(US Department of the Interior Indian Affairs)

On The Map - Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics, where do people live who work in your community?)
(United States Census Bureau)

(U.S. Bancorp)

Tools for Poverty and Income Conversations

The Rural Data Portal - Taking stock of People, Poverty, and Housing In Your Community    (Housing Assistance Council)

(National Association of Counties)

(Corporation for Enterprise Development)


(Economic Innovation Group)

Thank you Rani for this great information!  Visit the Community Economics website to learn more about the important work that Rani and her colleagues are doing and how you can use them as resources in your community.  

We will be bringing more guest posts to the LCE Alumni Blog.  If there is a specific topic you are interested in please leave a comment!

Photo credit flickr DouglasDuffield

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