Data Driven Workforce Decisions

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Data Driven Workforce Decisions

Data driven decisions support business success and help our organization focus on supporting a thriving economy which includes attracting a talented workforce.

Data helps us evaluate and monitor short- and long-term trends, and it aids our efforts to more effectively recruit talent. For example, our data shows national locations that may have a surplus of an occupation. We use that information to target the area for talent attraction or to provide the information to a company we’re assisting.


Cost of Living

As we market to attract new business and workforce, we employ tools that help inform those decisions. Participating in data collection and offering an embedded tool that compares cost of living between our metro and another participating metro is one way we do that. It’s data that supports a more informed decision.

How it works

The Cost-of-Living Index compares the cost of living in one metro versus another to help job seekers, researchers, organizations like the GFMEDC, and site selectors.

Our organization gathers pricing information for more than 60 commonly used goods and services to be included in a quarterly index. The Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER), a national research organization, analyzes the pricing and publishes a quarterly index of this information. Pricing information is gathered on housing costs, groceries, specific clothing items, entertainment, utilities and more to understand how prices are changing in real-time and how they compare against other metros.

“Knowing where a dollar goes the furthest helps residents find the best place to call home and businesses relocate to fit the needs of its employees,” said Tyler Baines, COLI Project Manager/Research Analyst for C2ER.

The Index has been published by the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) since 1968 with data recognized by the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and CNN Money.

Cost of Living Calculator

Workforce Development 1

Data Driven Support for public transportation options

As part of our conversations with primary-sector companies, we learned that public transportation out to the industrial parks is an immense challenge. In fact, in survey responses (On a scale of one to seven, where one is least satisfied and seven is the most satisfied), industrial park companies gave public transportation an average satisfaction score of 4.35, where the remaining 63 companies in the BRE program gave public transportation an average satisfaction score of 5.53.

With that information, the GFMEDC gathered information, researching data and headed out to try out the bus route ourselves. Staff found several challenges, including:

  • Drivers in short supply
  • Routes not aligned with all shift times
  • A lack of buses
  • A lack of shelters for users and confusing online maps makes using the bus system challenging

Learning from city staff that there was a shortage of bus drivers and equipment, the GFMEDC began the process of determining whether autonomous public vehicles could be an option to address this transportation need, not just for the north Fargo industrial area but also other areas within our region where bus service to support employment was critical. Staff have engaged city and state leaders regarding the issues. One solution evolves around local and state laws regarding autonomous transportation options to fill the gap.

The GFMEDC has shared the details of their discoveries with the FMWF Chamber, our region’s leading public policy organization and will work with them to see if a meaningful solution to this economic opportunity for our companies and citizens can be developed.

Workforce Development 2

Cultivating a Data Partnership with the Minnesota Federal Reserve

Over the last year, the GFMEDC has cultivated a strategic partnership with the Federal Reserve 9th District (Minneapolis) to be a survey distribution partner for their General Business Survey. In return, the EDC gains access to anonymized survey responses submitted by businesses in Cass and Clay Counties.

The General Business Conditions Survey conducted by the MN Fed is one of the largest, regular surveys of business conditions among the twelve Reserve District Banks and asks businesses to ascertain their recent and future outlook. With access to data submitted by companies in our region, we can compare business outlook sentiments to the wider District’s service territory (Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and parts of Wisconsin and Michigan). This data gives our FM Metro a benchmark to see if our businesses are experiencing more positive or negative businesses conditions compared to those in the rest of the 9th district.

  • For example, data from the July 2023 survey had more positive sentiment from businesses in the FM Metro than the rest of the 9th district.
  • 60% of FM respondents expect moderate to significant increases in revenues compared to 9th District respondents at 38%.
  • 60% of FM Region respondents are somewhat to very optimistic regarding their 6-month business outlook compared to 9th District at 42%.

Our work with the Federal Reserve is one of many data partnerships the GFMEDC has cultivated to support data-driven decision making by leveraging collaborations to gain better results for everyone involved.

Disclaimers: The respondents to the General Business Conditions survey do not come from a random or representative sample, so results should be interpreted carefully. This survey analysis comes from GFMEDC’s interpretation of the data, not from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

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