When Northwest Georgia went through a recession a few years ago, Dr. Larry Johnson wanted to find a way to help the business community by learning what industry existed in the area.
Dr. Johnson, dean of Dalton State’s School of Business, began using Harvard Business School’s cluster mapping program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce, to help economic planners, community leaders and business leaders respond better to industrial trends.
And U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker noticed.
During a speech this week to the 2014 Esri International User’s Conference in San Diego, Calif. Ms. Pritzker lauded Dalton State’s School of Business for its use of the data provided through the cluster mapping program.
“To see how this tool is already yielding benefits, we can look to Dalton, Ga., where Dalton State College is using mapping data to analyze regional business clusters,” Ms. Pritzker said in her speech. “They dug into layers of economic information and uncovered new details about key sectors, from chemical manufacturing to building materials to transportation infrastructure. All told, Dalton unlocked a new set of data to inform its economic development strategy.
“These data are being put in the hands of local officials, who are using the information to make strategic investments, recruit new companies, and lay the groundwork for new industries. In short, whether in Georgia or across the country, our cluster-mapping tool gives us the ability to reinvent and modernize economic development strategies...”
Dr. Johnson publishes the regional data he collects from the cluster maps in Business Analytics, a publication of the Center for Economic Research and Entrepreneurship of Dalton State’s School of Business. The publication circulates to a large number of business leaders, community and economic developers, public officials and entrepreneurs, and it is available online at daltonstate.edu/cere/business-analytics.html.
Dr. Johnson’s analysis of the data shows the region is home to much chemical processing, large construction machinery and transportation, as well as the textile industry. This information can be used by others to aid counties and cities in making strategic decisions about infrastructure and tax exemptions, for example.
“This is an international recognition,” Dr. Johnson said of Ms. Pritzker’s statements. “It’s nice to know what we’re doing here can be valuable information. We want to make sure the region is aware of what industry we have and what we can do.”
This cluster map, used by Dr. Larry Johnson, dean of Dalton State’s School of Business, shows a high volume of transportation industry in the North Georgia area.