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Inspiring Case Studies from Four Communities Using Data for Community Transformation

Insights to action: how to translate analysis into action by sharing successful examples of how quantitative data has transformed communities.

Fourth Economy currently supports a cohort of economic development practitioners empowering communities to use data-driven decision-making. This work is made possible through the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) Equity Impact Investments Program. As a part of this project, we were asked to identify inspiring case studies and successful examples of how qualitative data has transformed communities

Creating a Targeted Response to Economic Shock

Fourth Economy’s early analysis of COVID-19 impacts helped the foundation community of Pittsburgh to mobilize support for vulnerable workers and businesses, and direct financial resources to provide essential community support. Before Federal support like the Paycheck Protection Program or American Rescue Plan, our analysis identified core areas of need for the foundation community to coordinate a collective response to address business and worker support, housing aid, food insecurity, and child care.

Developing a Minority Business Incubator

Fourth Economy worked on a strategic planning process with Regional Economic Development Inc. in Columbia, Missouri. The analysis identified a gap in minority-owned businesses – there were 6.8 times the number of white-owned firms as non-white firms. Addressing this gap was reflected in the plan’s goals of increasing the number of minority-owned firms as well as increasing investments in minority-owned firms. As a result of the planning process, REDI opened the Shops at Sharp End, a minority business incubator that supports and empowers small retail businesses and entrepreneurs.

On a residential street, people congregate in a circle on a front lawn.
Photo credit: Hilltop Alliance

Identifying Housing Solutions to Support Community Development

Fourth Economy worked with the Hilltop Alliance and Allentown CDC to author a Housing Strategy and Action Plan. We consulted with community members, Allentown CDC, and Hilltop Alliance staff to present parcel-level analysis and collect neighborhood conditions information. We identified four strategies to strengthen the housing market: new affordable housing, maintaining and preserving home ownership, preserving existing affordable housing, and rethinking alleys as potential housing solutions. Our work allowed the community members and community organizations to identify specific properties for stabilization and redevelopment. So far, the Hilltop Alliance has resolved over 3,000 property maintenance code issues and provided home repair and preservation resources for over 350 LMI homeowners.

Preserving Wealth and Economic Mobility

Fourth Economy supported LISC Jacksonville in its mission to stabilize homeownership and family wealth building in majority Black neighborhoods in Jacksonville, Florida. Our work examined property records to identify areas with high concentrations of households at risk of speculative cash buyers, tax auction sales, and heirs’ properties – homes without formal estate planning – to help LISC Jacksonville prioritize outreach efforts and strategies that preserve homeownership and family wealth creation among these households. So far, LISC Jacksonville has secured funding from several foundations and private and corporate donors to understand, address, and resolve heirs’ property issues, keep families in their homes, and preserve or build generational wealth. This important work has helped more than 130 families obtain clear titles to their homes and preserve more than $6.4 million in housing value for those families.


These inspiring case studies show that there is not just one way to harness the power of quantitative data to create catalytic change. By investing in these economic development practitioners, IEDC and the EDA are helping a cohort of professionals leverage data to develop actionable strategies within their own communities. At Fourth Economy, as these examples demonstrate, we love helping communities translate analysis into action. How has your community used data to drive actionable strategies? Contact us and let us know at [email protected].


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