Chris Worley recently celebrated five years at Fourth Economy. He joined the team after earning a master’s degree in Information Systems Management from Carnegie Mellon University. Now the Senior Consultant for Analytics, Chris works with clients to find and implement evidence-based solutions to community challenges.
We asked Chris a few questions about his role, how it builds on his past professional experiences, and what he’s excited to accomplish at Fourth Economy in 2023. We also asked Chris what he would name Pittsburgh’s professional basketball team, if he had the power to bring an NBA franchise to town.
You are Fourth Economy’s Senior Consultant for Analytics. What does that entail? What does your work look like on any given day?
Fourth Economy works on a wide range of projects – on any given day, I could be working on comprehensive economic development planning, impact analysis, or housing strategy. Lately, I’ve really enjoyed our work on equitable community development planning, outdoor economy, arts and culture, and resilience work. As an analyst, it’s my job on these projects to make sure that everyone has a good understanding of the most important and pressing challenges, and a sense of which strategies would have the greatest impact when implemented.
While you were pursuing your graduate studies, you were the Director of Students Using Data for Social Good (SUDS). What was the most important lesson you learned from the experience?
I attended the Heinz College of Public Policy and Information Systems at Carnegie Mellon University, and was surrounded by passionate individuals who believed that we could use thoughtful data analysis and public policy to improve civic life. The Students Using Data for Social Good (SUDS) group was a great outlet for matching and applying skills that we learned in the classroom – data analysis, model building, predictive analytics – to municipal and nonprofit organizations that had a core need for incorporating this analysis into their decision making and service offerings. Some of our work included offering ideas about more efficient routing and timing for public busing, fire risk modeling to help determine which buildings were the best candidates for inspection and mitigation efforts, and tracking point-source pollution trends.
Many of your projects focus on preparing economies for changes to the global climate. What strategies for making people and places resilient to climate change are you most optimistic about?
We have seen an uptick in regions focused on preparing economies to make them more resilient and to prepare for impacts of a changing climate. I am optimistic about recent large-scale federal investments in combating climate change, especially the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The IRA is a historic investment in the communities and companies developing cleantech industry clusters around the United States. Increasingly, there are concrete steps leaders can take in their organizations to make the most of this momentum, especially around regional economic development and the accelerating clean energy transition. I think we will continue to see more regions interested in the ways in which they can move in this positive direction.
What do you hope to accomplish with Fourth Economy this year?
The Fourth Economy team is coming into this year with new insights and understanding about what is motivating the efforts that communities and regions are undertaking to recover and build resilience in their regional economies. The conversations that we’ve had recently have continued to reveal core challenges that need to be addressed, but also demonstrate there is energy around building equity into recovery efforts, an increased emphasis on the role that arts and culture and the outdoor economy play in placemaking, and a desire to incorporate environmental and economic resilience into strategy and planning efforts.
One of your hobbies is playing basketball. Pittsburgh, PA is a sports city without an NBA franchise. If you had the power to bring a pro basketball team to Pittsburgh, what would you name it and what would its mascot be?
Pittsburgh has a great football, baseball, and hockey tradition – and it would be great to add an NBA franchise to the city. If I had the power to bring a pro basketball team to Pittsburgh, I’d name them after the Funiculars, which are the often photographed cable cars that transport residents and tourists 400 feet above Pittsburgh’s three rivers for great views of the city.