State Auditor says it's impossible to measure economic development organizations

Sunday, October 12, 2014

On October 2, the office of State Auditor Troy Kelley published a performance audit of one of Washington’s economic development programs.

"The Legislature wanted to measure the effect of locally-based associate development organizations on job growth and capital investment, but doing so has proven difficult.

"In fact, our analysis determined it is virtually impossible to measure the impact of associate development organizations, because so many other forces affect business owners’ decisions to expand or relocate.
"Important factors such as business competition, the availability of loans, and raw material prices are outside the control of our economic development programs.

"Fostering job growth is important to our state and our communities.

"But while asking associate development organizations to report how many jobs they have created will not result in meaningful figures, it is possible to ensure economic development programs are accountable for their efforts.

"In our report, we offer suggestions and leading practices that can help the Legislature develop a more effective performance measurement system for economic development programs."


Anonymous,  October 13, 2014 at 1:56 PM  

Why is it our local government cannot be blamed for a lack of economic development when they would surely take all the credit if there were any?

Robb October 16, 2014 at 12:52 PM  

The problem is that a lot of the decisions made by companies such as where they locate, how many they hire, why they choose a particular community, etc. are outside of the sphere of influence by economic development organizations, either at the state, regional or local level. It's not that their efforts don't result in more jobs, growth of indigenous companies or relocation of those out of area or out of state, it's just that it's next to impossible to attach accurate, hard numbers to their efforts.

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