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2022 Year in Review
As we reflected on last year we wanted to celebrate our team’s impact as we worked in communities around the country and advanced the human-centered economy in areas of economic strategy, economic equity and economic resilience. We wanted to share with you some of our notable engagements:
Advancing the Human-Centered Economy
Fourth Economy sharpened our focus on three key areas to advance the human-centered economy
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
In Fourth Economy’s fourth (!) year of managing this program for Allegheny County Economic Development, six municipalities received technical assistance based on priorities set from previous years’ strategic planning. Mt. Oliver Borough received final designs for their central Clocktower Plaza created by evolveEA based on community input sessions led by Fourth Economy. In Pitcairn, business owners are meeting to form a business association capitalizing on the popularity of the Pitcairn Night Market. The program year culminated with the Allegheny Together Summit held at the Connect Center in East Pittsburgh, attended by representatives from over 25 municipalities across Allegheny County. More information can be found along with resources for communities and business owners on the Allegheny Together website.
Atlantic City, NJ
The City of Atlantic City engaged Fourth Economy to create a long-term strategic action plan to assist the City in maximizing its growth potential and implement new or stalled community-focused economic and real estate development projects. The strategic action plan will provide recommendations for projects that are most actionable and have the greatest potential for broad community benefit. Fourth Economy will develop a clear action plan based on an analysis of prior planning efforts, relevant data, and broad stakeholder and resident engagement. The final plan will inform strategic opportunities, provide a real estate market analysis, and identify potential avenues for focusing the flow of private capital, public funds, and economic investment.
Fourth Economy led Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce in developing a strategic plan to re-establish its focus on chamber members and energize the business community as a whole. The team led HRCC in developing a new vision, mission and focused path forward for the years 2023 - 2027. The approach was particularly unique in that it engaged internal and external stakeholders, including economic development partners, to ensure the plan addresses the needs and opportunities of the broader community, while still focusing on serving chamber members.
Fourth Economy partnered with Bloomington Economic Development Corporation on its Economic Vitality Project, which convenes people across Monroe County to better support existing efforts to improve the community and economy and catalyze new actions to fill in the gaps. The project is working to advance improvements for housing, workforce development, infrastructure and land use, business creation and employment, and quality of life. While the region is rich in programs and studies, there is opportunity for community members to convene around a shared vision and take action across silos. The EVP bridges the almost 40 current and recent plans that address different aspects of life in Monroe County, connecting interrelated problems and coordinating solutions across sectors and organizations. To date, the EVP has engaged 147 unique participants across a variety of channels and forums – including a community listening tour, one-on-one interviews, focus group discussions, and working sessions. 637 community members completed the EVP’s Monroe County Community Survey.
In 2022 we began our next engagement with York County Economic Alliance and the Cultural Alliance of York County in York County, Pennsylvania, this time by exploring strategies to support the county’s arts, culture, and outdoor recreation ecosystems. This project centered around the creation of an asset map that displays all of the amenities that contribute to the quality of life and quality of place within York County, and an exploration of sustainable public funding models deployed in other areas of the country used to support their arts, culture, and outdoor recreation economies. We also updated the COVID impact work we began in 2020, to help the county understand the real and potential impacts of the global pandemic on local economic and community issues. Updates in 2021, and then again in 2022, have helped York County plan investments to minimize those negative impacts, as well as track the community’s recovery over time.
Inclusive recovery efforts
Focus on underrepresented communities
Economic disparity mitigation
Following the onset of the pandemic, Fourth Economy partnered with the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Allies for Children, and the POISE Foundation to “take the pulse” of the region by studying COVID’s impact on marginalized youth and vulnerable populations. Bi-monthly Pulse Reports provided health, education, and workforce data to inform policy and resource advocacy.
We centered racial, ethnic, and gender equity in framing our discussion of workforce exists and subsequent shortages. We found women’s labor force participation rate fell to 57% (compared to 70% of men) in February 2021. Before the pandemic, the last time women’s labor force participation rate was this low was in 1988. We further centered equity in discussing industry-level labor force changes, particularly in childcare. Nationally, 40% of childcare workers are women of color; workers of color earn an average 78¢ for every dollar earned by their white counterparts. The complete Pulse Reports can be found here.
We also worked with Huntington, WV, home to Marshall University, to examine housing and commercial development potential in the downtown area. In addition to a narrative market opportunity report, Fourth Economy developed profiles for several key development sites that were produced in designed brochures and an interactive ESRI Story Map.
In 2022, Fourth Economy worked with the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission to help six counties in North Central PA to understand the current state of housing in the region via a conditions analysis and residential market assessment. Community engagement led to developing several preliminary ideas for regional housing strategies around 5 key topics, including vacancy and blight reduction, and rehabilitation of older housing stock. Nearly five years earlier, Fourth Economy had identified housing as a key gap in the region’s ability to attract a workforce. Over time, the results of our analysis were validated and support grew within the region to take action.
Throughout 2022, Fourth Economy assisted Prosper Birmingham, a ‘coalition of community, civic and business leaders committed to creating a more vibrant, racially and gender inclusive economy’ in Birmingham, AL, in creating an action-plan and ecosystem map to understand and achieve community goals moving forward. Birmingham ranks last in the country in its rate of Black business ownership, a paradigm Prosper plans to turn on its head with a series of short to long-term strategies launching in the new year.
Human-centered climate impact mitigation
Environmental-related economy impacts
Industry impact analysis and program development
Shock and stress scenario exploration
We are supporting the development of a Blue Economy Action Plan and recommendations for the development of a sustainable organizational structure to advance this sector for the Ocean State. Learn more about the project and its impact here.
Fourth Economy conducted a workforce analysis and regional planning effort for 17,200 Electric Vehicle (EV) workers across five states. The analysis identified the availability of EV workers, skills and credentials needed to advance in these occupations, and prevalence of family-sustaining jobs for workers without a college degree. Further, the analysis identified occupations at risk of automation, growth trajectory of many EV occupations, and outlined how to address the gap to ensure availability of workers in the future.
In 2022 we began working with the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission (SMPDC) on their Local Climate Action Planning (CAP) Cohort project. This unique model allows SMPDC to facilitate Climate Action Planning with four distinct Southern Maine communities, which will build their plans in a cohort model to enable peer learning and expanded capacity. The goal is to produce a unique CAP for each town that responds to each community’s current and projected Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, climate change vulnerability assessment, and potential adaptation strategies. We are supporting the cohort by helping each town develop their Community Engagement approach - helping each to design tailored outreach and communications strategies to allow residents, business owners, municipal staff, and other community members to voice their opinions and contribute to the CAP planning process. Fourth Economy will continue this work through late 2023.
Meet Our Team
These are the folks making good things happen every day. We added eight key staff members to our team in 2022. We're excited to be welcoming several new additions in 2023 to further expand our reach and capabilities.