Celebrating The Accomplishments of 2021
Our Year in Review
As we all had a moment of reflection towards the end of 2021, I spent some time turning through our client roster and completed engagements. Foremost, I was struck by the resilience of our team! Our ability to adapt to what has become 21-months of a pandemic bodes well for what is ahead. When you are in it - the day-to-day curveballs, the anxiety and stress - it is difficult to assess how you are doing. But when you get a moment, like I did, you can see the journey and the mark that we are leaving.
Last year we engaged with forty-six clients and saw our work lead to more than $300M in investments in their efforts, saw numerous programs implemented in response to recommendations, were heartened to witness policy changes and broader attention to issues that we documented, were encouraged by leaders that are using our work to guide actions, and much more.
I wanted to share some of our team’s accomplishments that I am most proud of from 2021.
President & CEO
New and Notable Projects from 2021
Our work with Ramsey County Minnesota was the kind of engagement that we hope to see more of in 2022. The development of the inaugural, and now award-winning, Economic Competitiveness and Inclusion Plan drove us to focus on the difficult issues of racism and poverty in the context of an economic development strategy. We led a team and assembled a plan that will define the County’s actions for the next five years. Already it has spurred new investments including a recent $75M investment by the County and City in affordable housing development. More on the award and thoughts from community leaders can be found here.
Fourth Economy supported the development of three regional development plans including the South-Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership, the Greater Lafayette Regional Development Plan and the White-River (Central Indiana) Regional Development Plan.
Combined, these three plans attracted $100M in investment commitments from the state - matched by over $600M in additional funding. These transformative investments will pay dividends for years to come. Read more here.
The act of doing while planning is a critical skill that made the difference for some communities in 2021. The York County Economic Alliance team could give a master class in this as they started the implementation of the Economic Action Plan while we were still wrapping up its development. Investments in small business support, broadband, and equity resulted from this work and continue into 2022 - expect more news from York, PA in future blogs.
Advancing the Human-Centered Economy in 2022
Fourth Economy will sharpen our focus on three key areas to advance the human-centered economy in 2022
Implementable plans that help communities create a vision and portfolio of strategies designed for impact.
Bold plans that specifically address economic disparities especially focused on communities of color.
Forward-looking strategies that prepare to be more economically and environmentally resilient for the next crisis.
Community Vision Development
Economic Impact Analysis
Comprehensive and Neighborhood Plans
Fourth Economy conducted quantitative and qualitative data gathering and analysis and engaged with community members to develop a Strategic Plan which outlines key opportunities for economic development in Columbia and Boone Counties.
Fourth Economy Consulting was engaged by the Community Foundation of Central Georgia to provide an update to its inaugural strategic plan, launched in 2014, and advise on a five-year vision guiding the direction of Macon-Bibb County’s economy.
Networks Northwest engaged Fourth Economy to create an ecosystem map that would help illuminate how economic development works in this rural region of Northwest Lower Michigan.
Inclusive recovery efforts
Focus on underrepresented communities
Economic disparity mitigation
CED’s vision for Ramsey County is one of economic competitiveness and inclusion, where its business and talent strengths create new industry growth and all residents have access to existing and future economic opportunities. With transformative redevelopment projects underway, CED is embarking on its first, comprehensive Economic Competitiveness and Inclusion Vision Plan that will serve as a blueprint to advance the county’s economy above its peers.
When a community is ready to incorporate an equity lens in their economic planning, it takes a multitude of actors contributing their expertise to see success. To support equitable economic growth that leads to systemic change, we developed the Equitable Community Planning Toolkit to bring together guidance and resources to help communities move from planning to action.
Human-centered climate impact mitigation
Environmental-related economy impacts
Industry impact analysis and program development
Shock and stress scenario exploration
The GAP Trail is a 150-mile trail connecting Pittsburgh and Cumberland, MD.Through our research, we created an economic impact model based on surveys and interviews with business owners, municipal officials, and local residents to estimate that the GAP provided $121 million in annual economic impact in 2019, a number that will likely continue to grow in the future.
According to the National Endowment for the Arts, the arts and cultural sector adds more to the economy than the construction and transportation/warehousing sectors combined. On behalf of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Fourth Economy produced a report outlining the impacts of the arts on local economies and hosted a webinar to discuss how communities can leverage state and federal funds to support art while growing their economies.
Fourth Economy and Bellwether Consulting developed a 45-minute phone-polling questionnaire to collect input from 600 Hoosiers. Fourth Economy also reviewed existing state-wide carbon reduction policies in the nation and then modeled the economic impacts such policies would have in the State of Indiana.
Meet Our Team
These are the folks making good things happen every day. As the 'Great Resignation' story loomed large over every industry in 2021, we had our own staffing transitions while adding five key staff members to our team. Our internship program also allowed us to harness the talent of five grad students and a fellow from four institutions. We're excited to be welcoming several new additions in 2022 to further expand our reach and capabilities.
Best of Our Blog
Our most read posts of 2021
Remember in-person concerts? (sigh). While we hope to see live entertainment make a comeback this year, 4E's Sally Guzik has put together a spotify playlist to fuel your economic and community engagement in 2022.