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Iowa State University Extension

Communities check ‘speed’ of economic development with ReCAP

speedometer-type data chart

Checking the “speedometer” to see how economic development is affecting individual Iowa counties and towns soon may become second nature for local leaders looking for a better way of life for the people in their communities. Iowa State University’s Regional Capacity Analysis Program (ReCAP) will help them get up to speed with data on everything from population to retail sales to jobs, says coordinator Liesl Eathington.

“The speedometer graph is one example of the user-friendly formats we have for illustrating community data,” Eathington said. A glance at the needle on a speedometer-type dial tells community leaders whether they are doing better than most similar communities in the state, or lagging behind. It gives a graphic view by quartiles of how the numbers are distributed across the state and where the local community ranks.

ReCAP is a data dissemination and analysis project jointly funded by ISU Extension and ISU’s Departments of Sociology and Economics. Although it evolved from the Office of Social and Economic Trend Analysis, ReCAP has a new Web site and a new focus on Iowa data, including population, age, race, migration, workers, commuting, jobs, farms, business firms, retail sales, industries, earnings, income, poverty, families, education, housing and geography.

ReCAP also offers customized research services, community education and community development assistance in partnership with ISU Extension. For more information, check the ReCAP Web site.

This article appeared in January 2008 -- From Jack Payne Newsletter