Business Services GroupThe Bureau of Business and Economic Research performs applied research projects for business, non-profit agencies, and government entities. The research may be primary where we gather and analyze new data, or secondary research where we search for existing studies and data. All types of entities come to us for information needed to make important decisions.

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Typical Research Projects

Economic Impact Analysis

Economic impact analysis involves projecting changes in an economic system, often associated with some defined geographic region, which will result from certain actions and/or activities. Economists often utilize tools known as input/output models that are based upon historic relationships that exist in modern economies to make predictions about future economic impacts. Input/output models utilize existing data sets for the system (region) being analyzed and the industries that are likely to be affected, together with algorithms that have been developed that reflect how changes in one aspect of the economic system affect other aspects of the system. An important aspect of understanding and utilizing economic impact analysis is appreciating that the methodology is quite good at estimating the direction and the order of magnitude of likely impacts, but the projected impacts are not similar to more exact measurements that can occur “after the fact.” Because the input/output models generate precise numbers as estimates of outcomes, some people conclude that these figures convey much greater precision than they actually do.

Fiscal Impact Analysis

Fiscal impact analysis involves projecting changes in revenues and/or costs for one or more governmental jurisdictions, usually associated with an anticipated economic impact of some nature, often associated with some proposed or actual development project. The economic impacts create changes in demand for government services which affect costs and also cause changes in local tax bases which in turn affect revenues.

Changes in demand for government services may arise from changes in a number of factors:
  • total population
  • demographic composition of population (e.g. age, employment status, income distribution).
  • housing
  • commercial activity
  • infrastructure

Changes in any of these elements may change the need for local government to provide general or particular services. Costs associated with such changes may be estimated through either using current average costs or through detailed projections based upon expected service demand. Revenue increases of decreases reflect changes in taxable economic activity within the jurisdiction of local governments. Improvement or deterioration in economic activity affects local tax bases which in turn affect local government revenues through taxation at the appropriate tax rate. Because of the complexity of this causal chain, changes in each stage may or may not cause a change in net local government revenues. For example, a change in economic activity may not change the value of the legal tax base if purchases by a business are exempt from sales and use tax. A change in the tax base may not affect revenues as in the case of property tax limitations or guaranteed sales tax distributions. Thus, particular impacts must be estimated using specific economic impact projections and analysis of the local government revenue system for a particular entity.

Cost and Cost-Effectiveness Analysis

For certain complex systems, often involving the provision of services through a number of agencies and entities, the task of identifying and compiling all of the costs associated with the services being provided can be a daunting task. This compilation is a necessary first step in determining the order of magnitude of resources being dedicated to the entire system, and is often the first step in a cost-effectiveness analysis. The required second step in such an analysis is to determine outcomes. This can be much more complex than this simple sentence makes it sound, since it involves determining which outcomes should and can be measured, devising a system to capture the outcomes over time, all while protecting confidential information about specific individuals. When all the needed data is captured, then the relationship of outcomes to costs (cost-effectiveness) and be evaluated. This is what is required in order to improve the efficacy of the system and more efficient allocation of resources.

Economic Development Assistance

Successful economic development is, ultimately, dependent upon individuals making investment decisions in a community. Those individuals consider the risks and returns associated with potential investments and then allocate their resources to those projects and locations that meet their criteria. Certain locations offer competitive advantages for such investments relative to other locations. Citizens and public officials need to understand what competitive advantages their area offers and their role in encouraging individuals to make investments that can utilize these advantages. Local citizens and officials can work to mitigate or eliminate different types of risks that would be perceived by potential investors and also create and/or promote their own competitive advantages. For example, public processes that tend to ensure communities will be receptive to certain types of development reduce one of the risks that might concern investors. Eliminating or reducing barriers to development might involve such things as land assemblage, expedited approval and permitting processes, development of key infrastructure related to transportation, communications, education, etc. Business risks might be mitigated through access to targeted capital pools through low interest loans and/or grants that either lower the cost of capital or extend repayment terms to improve early cash flow. BBER works with communities to help them through this “self-assessment” process and in implementing programs to mitigate risks and make their communities more attractive for economic development.

Public / Customer Attitudes, Beliefs, Perceptions and/or Behavior

Often it is useful for a public entity or a private business to know more about how their entity or the goods/services they offer are perceived by the public and/or by the customers who utilize the goods and/or they offer. There are a variety of ways to collect this kind of information. The Bureau of Business & Economic Research helps clients to determine what information they may want to collect and to consider the alternative means by which this can be accomplished.

Market Potential / Barriers to Commercialization Analysis

When developing new technologies and/or the undertaking the transfer of technologies from research to commercialization, it can be quite beneficial to begin to understand the magnitude of the market potential for these new technologies, the status of any “existing competition”, who the potential partners may be in getting to market, as well as the technical, legal, and commercial barriers that may exist. The Bureau of Business & Economic Research assists inventors in researching and analyzing these issues.