Economic Development Report
Economic Development Report
imagine that you have just been hired as an analyst in the economic development department of the chamber of commerce of a metropolitan area (this is the MSA that you chose earlier in the semester). This chamber of commerce works in cooperation with cities and surrounding counties to play the lead economic development role in the metropolitan area. The head of the department is also new to the job and recently moved to the city. She wants an update on the status of and trends in the metropolitan economy before she gives a lunch talk to the members of the chamber of commerce. She asks you to prepare a briefing report for her so that she has some background information. There is not much time to prepare the report, so you will have to rely on information you can download from government web sites, such as those of the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Housing Finance Agency, and the Census Bureau. This is your main chance to make a good first impression on your new boss. Moreover, you are still on probation, so this could have a bearing on whether you retain your job.
She has asked for some information in particular:
1. Population, employment, and unemployment trends for the last 10-15 years.
2. GDP trends for all industries combined for the last 10-15 years.
3. Current (or most recent) breakdown of the GDP by industry and how that compares with similar statistics for the MSA 10 or so years earlier and with current statistics for the U.S. as a whole (note that you will need to calculate the percentage contributions of each industry in order to make comparisons across time or between the MSA and the US economies; when comparing the MSA and US economies, calculate location quotients by dividing the MSA percentages by the US percentages and also subtract the MSA percentages from the US percentages to see where the biggest differences are in terms of percentage points).
4. House price trends for as far back as the data allow. Compare the local price series with that for the U.S.
5. Recent information about the age distribution and educational attainment of the population compared with the same information from the 2000 Census.
In addition, she indicated that she wants the GDP and house price data to be in nominal rather than real terms in order to keep it simple. She would like you to discuss and interpret the above data items, focusing on the key points. Among other things, she is interested in the impacts of the great recession on the MSA economy. She also wants you to include appropriate graphs and tables in your report. All of your data sources need to be documented in detail, including the web sites from which the data were downloaded. To ensure that the data are accurate, they may not be downloaded from secondary sources; the data must come directly from the site of the organization that produced them. In addition to the report, which will be in Word format, your boss also wants a copy of the Excel workbook that you downloaded the data into and used to create graphs. All of the data must be incorporated into the same Excel workbook, although you should put the different sets of data on different sheets within the workbook.
1. Include a one-page executive summary that highlights the key points from your analysis.
2. Think carefully about the data you are using. Make sure you understand the data and how to use them. If not, check for explanatory information on the relevant web site. If you are still uncertain, post a question on the Discussion Board. It is better to ask a question than to get it wrong. (In particular, make sure you are clear on what geographical area the data pertain to.)
3. Be very thoughtful about the graphics and tables that you include in your report. Are they simple, clear, and easy to understand? Are they properly labeled? Do you use a consistent style throughout the report? Are you presenting too much information, too little, or just the right amount? Remember that your boss is a busy person, so she is counting on you to sort through the data and focus on what is important.
4. Organize the report carefully and proofread it several times. Your boss is not going to be happy if she receives a document that is full of typographical, grammatical, and other errors.
5. Clean up your spreadsheet so that it is easy to use, is properly labeled throughout, and contains only the data you actually used plus any graphs that you made. Your boss may want to play around a bit with the data herself, so make things easy for her.
6. You can provide more information than asked for, but given your lack of experience with these kinds of reports you will probably want to focus on just what she asked for so that you are sure to have enough time to get it right.
Note that you must submit a complete draft of your report by November 17 (upload it and your Excel workbook to Blackboard just as if you were uploading the final report) and I will give you some comments on it that week. The final version of the report is due December 8. I will give you a grade on the draft and a grade on the final version. The actual grade for the final report will be the average of those two grades.
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