Understanding a region’s economic and workforce landscape is essential for related initiatives, and data is a critical part of this process. The challenge here is finding the right data and being able to retrieve it quickly and efficiently. Jumping between and pulling from multiple data sets can hinder productivity and be time-consuming, and not having enough data to provide a full picture of a region's economy can make it difficult to answer questions and develop an informed strategy. In Canada, two organizations have been partnering with Lightcast to confront this problem and advance their workforce and economic development initiatives.
Partnership with Lightcast
Located directly across the river from Detroit, Michigan, Windsor, Ontario is known as the automobile capital of Canada. Over the past few years, the region has been transitioning its economy from traditional internal combustion engines to battery electric vehicles. Invest Windsor Essex, the lead economic development organization in the region, has been working to retain, expand, attract, and start up new businesses to support this transition while utilizing Lightcast data in Analyst to inform their strategy. Analyst is Lightcast's labor market analytics research tool that uses data to provide a better understanding of regions.
“Analyst has given us a good understanding of where we are with our workforce, industry overview, and occupational overview, specifically in the EV sector,” says Matthew Johnson, Executive Director of Mobility Partnerships & Innovation at Windsor Essex. “It’s helpful to understand where the majority of our labor force currently is and what associated skills could be transitioned into this new sector.”
Similarly, in Guelph, Ontario, Avaanz Ltd. has been utilizing Lightcast data to support their examination of different economies. As a human-environment consulting firm, Avaanz is examining the economies of first nations and regions within Canada where many people own vacation cabins. While understanding different economies can be challenging, Analyst has helped them gain a fuller picture of the economic landscape.
Strengthening Economic and Workforce Development Initiatives
Foreign Direct Investment
Invest Windsor Essex has been utilizing Analyst for both strategy development and providing reliable information to their foreign direct investment (FDI) clients. The data tool delivers granular insights on jobs, industries, and skills for different communities, allowing users to project where the industry is going and where the labor is coming from. By providing FDI clients with this comprehensive data, Invest Windsor Essex is able to ease their worries about investment risks while also establishing strong client relationships. “This level of customer service has helped us build good rapport with these companies. We’re able to provide them with data not just for our community, but also other communities they are looking into, which allows us to have open, honest, and transparent conversations. That goes a long way in helping them feel more comfortable with the risks involved with investing in any new foreign jurisdiction,” says Johnson.
In Canada, second home ownerships are common, with about a quarter million cottages in Ontario. Avaanz’s cottage spending project examines the economic impact that people have on the community where their cottage is located. JME Maxwell, the Director of Financial Analysis and Organizational Management, explains, “This is important to examine, because the municipalities where the cottages are located often get a lot of tax revenue and benefit due to these people being there, but some cottagers feel the spending is mostly focused on the permanent residents instead of the cottage owners.”
Avaanz has been using Analyst’s supply chain information to understand if there is spending in these communities, if there is a ripple effect of the economic impact, and how much of it has remained within the community versus purchased from outside sources. Additionally, Analyst has helped Avaanz show how a cottage in a more economically integrated location retains greater economic benefit than one in a more economically isolated location.
Another challenge that Analyst has helped Avaanz approach is understanding the economies of First Nations in Canada. It’s tough to look at data of a broader area and truly discern what the economy is like for indigenous people within that region. By using Analyst, Avaanz gains more specific data on census subdivisions and First Nations Reserves including information on how much of their spending is on imports versus internally produced products and services. These insights have produced a fuller and more accurate picture of the economies of first nations, allowing Avaaz to perform more efficient economic analysis.
Lightcast’s data has delivered a new way for these organizations to approach workforce and economic development initiatives.
For Invest Windsor Essex, the ability to pull data from one platform instead of gathering it from multiple sources has gone a long way. “What we find most beneficial is the regional drive time radius. Our economic jurisdiction has nine municipalities, but we can pull from 13 different municipalities and US local economic development data based on the drive time,” explains Johnson. “We can also use the projections to understand the growth of a certain industry or occupation as well as the graduate rates of post-secondary programs that could feed into these investments. All of these are extremely helpful when putting together the full package for our clients.” As a small organization, pulling data from multiple sources can be tedious, but gaining Lightcast's comprehensive data in Analyst has led to increased efficiency and allowed them to respond to clients’ requests more quickly.
For Avaanz, the ability to access a full picture of a region’s economic landscape as well as granular insights on specific communities has supported economic analysis. “We originally weren’t able to fully understand the economic impact and how much was being retained in the communities we were studying, and Lightcast helped us answer that question,” explains Maxwell. “The supply chain information was especially helpful, and it led to new conversations with our clients to discuss more aspects of their economy in greater detail. Analyst’s features allowed us to differentiate ourselves and provide value for our clients. We’re building our systems, tools, and templates to answer our clients’ questions, and the data that Lightcast provides is a valuable part of that.”