A new initiative from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the Harvard Business School will allow anyone to visualize economic clusters across the country and see how well, or not so well, an area’s economy is performing.
The website, called the U.S. Cluster Mapping and Registry project, is based out of Harvard and will be part of the business school’s Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness.
A press release from the Commerce Department, which encompasses the EDA, identified ‘clusters’ as geographic territories of interconnected industries and organizations that make areas more competitive and open to private investment.
“Effective regional economic outcomes rely on the policymakers, businesses and other stakeholders having a solid understanding of the region’s strengths and economic opportunities,” Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said in the release. “This tool reinforces the federal government’s commitment to promote America’s clusters and provide businesses and organizations with the data and strategies they need to capitalize on their region’s assets.”
The beta version of the project is now live at clustermapping.us and features an interactive map of the United States divided into these economic regions. Users can also change the criteria the map displays to include employment growth rate by state and economic area, prosperity by economic area and specialization by economic area.
In a welcome video on the site, Michael Porter, the founder of the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, said the website provides a comprehensive, consistent and rigorous data set on various levels of economic status across the country.
“This site is fundamentally a tool for assisting in economic development all across America. It’s designed to provide some of the fundamental data necessary for regions and businesses to really understand their competitive position and the drivers of their economic performance and the path forward in terms of developing local and regional economies,” Porter said. “Policymakers can use this information to understand the performance of their region – really some of the critical drivers of growth and wages and jobs in their regional economy and use it to design economic policies that are more effective and more in tune with local needs.”
The launch of the project comes as EDA is attempting multi-agency initiatives focused on helping these economic regions further develop their clusters. According to the release, since fiscal year 2010, the Commerce Department and EDA have invested in more than 64 interagency projects across the country.
The beta version is available now, but a full version, which would include full custom economic area capability, key features of the region and dashboards for each cluster, should be available in August, according to the clustermapping.us website.