Impact DashBoard Peer ProTip with Jenny Philip

Looking for tips on how to best utilize Impact DashBoard? Read how Impact DashBoard subscribers utilize their models. Below you’ll find peer advice from a seasoned Impact DashBoard veteran: Jenny Philip, Vice President Public Policy at the Greater Houston Partnership.

Here are topics that you can find below:

Gleaning Data for the Model

What you put in is what you get out. Your final impacts are only as valid as the inputs that you use. Any monkey can punch numbers into a box. Running the model only takes a few minutes. But really, the work is everything that happens before and after, you use the model. The true challenge is understanding the project you’re modeling. What does the impact mean? Are you using valid inputs and assumptions? You really need to start at a base question. The first question you should always ask yourself, “Should I even be running an impact? Is this project eligible?”

What you put in is what you get out. Your final impacts are only as valid as the inputs that you use. Any monkey can punch numbers into a box. Running the model only takes a few minutes. But really, the work is everything that happens before and after, you use the model. The true challenge is understanding the project you’re modeling. What does the impact mean? Are you using valid inputs and assumptions? You really need to start at a base question. The first question you should always ask yourself, “Should I even be running an impact? Is this project eligible?”

It’s important to understand the details of that project before starting the impact. You don’t just want to input the data as received. You want to take the time to truly understand the project.

Location & NAICS Classification

So two things that are typically misrepresented in the input form, and it’s good to provide that clarity prior to sending out the intake form, are the location and the NAICS.

You want to make sure that the location that the company provides is the actual site of the project. Sometimes, they might provide the address of where they’re currently at officing and then not the actual address of where the expansion or relocation is occurring. And of course, you need that correct location because those are what generates the taxing jurisdictions and finally the overall economic impact. In terms of the NAICS categorization, and this is the North American Industrial Classification System, the industry code that’s used to define the operations of that project.

You want to make sure to distinguish between the NAICS that perhaps the company traditionally operates under and what will be happening during the project. Oftentimes, those could be the same thing. But then there are instances where, for example, it could be a manufacturing company. But the project is actually a relocation or expansion of their corporate offices, and it doesn’t actually entail any additional manufacturing activity. So then that’s when you would actually use the corporate office NAICS and not the manufacturing NAICS. So you want to make sure that that distinction is clear.

Receiving Incomplete Data Forms

It’s also very common to receive incomplete intake forms. You can try your hardest and do your best to get every single data field included. But oftentimes, the company themselves may not even know what their taxable purchases in the local city or community will be. It’s fine not to have all the fields filled out. You’ll want to include in your project description which fields were not included in the process, so that it informs the final reader what they know was missing from the input into the model.

Data Inputs Necessary to Analyze a Project

The most critical pieces that you want to include are of course the address, a project description, the job creation numbers, the salary that’s associated with those jobs, the capital expenditure, and the industry code. Those are the critical pieces. The other items such as the taxable purchase and the inventory, you can still run a viable economic impact assessment without those pieces. But like I said, you will want to notate that in your project description.

User Guide & Assumptions

You’ll see that at the top right when you enter in your web model that there is a guide and then an image of a gear. The guide is a great user manual essentially of telling you what Impact DataSource has assumed to run the model. That’s important because at the end of the day, ultimately, you’re held accountable for these results. And so, you will be asked questions about the assumptions that you used in the model, even if it was what was the default that was provided by Impact DashBoard.

Modifying Assumptions

That gear allows you to change the assumptions that are used for the scenarios. You have the ability to edit the defaults, which is a really great option because every project is so different. Now, of course, when you edit the defaults, what’s nice is that you can reset the defaults. So you can also run different scenarios, which allows you to be able to print out all these different final outcomes and have the scenarios clearly labeled. This allows you to be able to model a base-case scenario, maybe a high case or a low case depending on what’s being demanded from that project.

The other benefit of having the scenario assumptions change in this setup is at the very bottom, there’s a notes box, and that notes box allows you and other users within your group to know what changes were made so that if they had to replicate it or have to explain to the final recipient of the report what changes were made to the default, all of that is notated at the bottom. You just need to remember to make sure to notate that.

If you have any questions or need any help modelling your projects, please reach out to your Impact DataSource team!

Paul Scheuren, (512) 524-0892, [email protected]