Earlier this month, the Economic Devleopment Co. of Lancaster County announced the creation of the Center for Regional Analysis, a local applied economic research center.

This new entity, supported significantly through contributions from The Steinman Foundation and the BB&T Economic Growth Fund, will provide high quality research and analysis to inform and drive economic development activity in Lancaster County.

For Lancaster County, the center will become a go-to resource for businesses, community partners and government officials, and, organizers hope, for the broader community as well.

“For too long our collective decision making has often been based on anecdotes, emotion and how things have always been done,” said Robert Krasne, vice chairman of The Steinman Foundation and CEO of Steinman Communications, the parent company of LNP Media Group, which publishes LNP.

“To ensure that Lancaster County continues to grow, flourish and thrive far into the future, we need to make enlightened decisions,” Krasne said.

Communities like Lancaster County must utilize data, research and analysis to inform key decisions and strategically address pressing economic needs.

This new center will offer high-quality data, nonpartisan analysis and technological tools, making it possible for a county like Lancaster to take a granular look at its economic needs and then use that information to guide key strategies and priorities.

We know important industries that drive our local economy are changing. Some face challenges, such as major workforce transitions in manufacturing, while others are experiencing growth, such as in the technology and live-events sectors.

Yet, we lack in-depth knowledge to understand the implications of these shifts.

For decades, we’ve talked about the importance and strength of manufacturing and agriculture in our community. Robust economic analyses will help us understand the layered impact of these sectors, how various threats and opportunities could impact them and, by extension, our overall economy.

We know generally about macro demographic shifts: aging Baby Boomers, a miniscule Generation X cohort and a large Millennial army are at our doorstep.

Applied data can help us understand how that will impact our local industries, our housing market, our infrastructure and other aspects of our economy, as well as better inform our decision-making to prepare for those shifts.

As it relates to EDC’s core economic development activity of business retention, expansion and recruitment, having customized, local and current information is essential in today’s competitive environment.

Prospective investors expect communities at the size and level of sophistication of Lancaster County to be able to make a business case for investment based on facts and analytics. Just saying our community is a good place to invest doesn’t cut it anymore.

Similarly, some of our local businesses have options to relocate to other communities — perhaps to be closer to suppliers or due to acquisitions. Rebutting the sales pitch of these other communities requires high-quality information.

Through the creation of the Center for Regional Analysis, Lancaster County now has the opportunity to be a more informed community, better equipped to identify our opportunities and challenges and better prepared to address them effectively.

Read the full article on LancasterOnline.