Keeping Score

Posted by: Hank Hyatt on Thursday, August 22, 2013
More than 6 years ago, a meeting with Bruce Yandle, an economist at Clemson University, generated the idea that Greenville needed to keep a better track of its economic competitiveness.  At that time, Greenville had seen a string of successful development projects: Poinsett Hotel, Falls Park and Liberty Bridge, Fluor Field, Riverplace, among many other projects. And the Great Recession had not yet hit.  Things looked good in Greenville. However, at Dr. Yandle’s urging, the Chamber looked at one key piece of data that painted a more troubling picture – Per Capita Personal Income (PCPI).
PCPI is one of the best measures of a community’s overall competitive position.  It is calculated by taking all sources of income in an area and dividing it by the total population of that area.  Greenville had seen significant progress over 20 years in terms of catching up to the US PCPI. After having surpassed, the national PCPI in the late 90s, Greenville saw a decade of decline in relative PCPI. (While our PCPI was increasing each year, we were not increasing as fast as the nation. Thus, our relative PCPI fell).
In response to this troubling trend, the Chamber engaged Clemson University to create the Regional Economic Scorecard.  Based on a statistical model of what impacts income and job growth, the Scorecard focuses on four main indicators: Human Capital, Innovative Activity, Entrepreneurial Environment and Industry Strength. In addition, the Scorecard compares our region to 14 peer and target regions across the Southeast. This was the first report of its kind in the state and was soon replicated by both the Charleston and Columbia metro regions.
The Scorecard and its primary metric – PCPI – are foundational to the work of the Greenville Chamber. Other organizations are now using the Scorecard in their own strategic planning.  With common measures, it is easier to align efforts as we work to accelerate income growth.  The 2013 Scorecard will be released to the public in September.  To read more about the Scorecard and review prior reports, click here.

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