Newswise — The National Economic Research and Resilience Center will provide the research and data communities need to recover from hardships and strengthen from within.

Effective economic development spurs growth, builds prosperity and improves quality of life. Jobs and industry health are indicators of economic development. Available housing, access to natural resources and community infrastructure are, too. Timely, local and highly specific data are critical to understanding and supporting all these areas.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory is joining forces with the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to create a National Economic Research and Resilience Center (NERRC). This new center will be a public resource that unites federal economic development efforts with ongoing research and data analysis. At the heart of NERRC’s mission will be answering basic questions: If communities receive funding from the EDA, is that help effective? What is the outcome? How can communities make themselves more resilient to prepare for future challenges?

“Argonne researchers, working with EDA economists and program staff, are setting a new standard for evidence-based, data-driven economic development,” said Alejandra Y. Castillo, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development.

The NERRC builds on other collaborations between EDA and Argonne. Previously, the two worked together to release the National Economic Resilience Data Explorer (NERDE). The NERDE provides data to local economic developers for project planning, and highlights the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also helps communities understand if they qualify for financial support from EDA. Hosted on the Argonne website, NERDE has already drawn more than 30,000 visits since January.

“Argonne researchers, working with EDA economists and program staff, are setting a new standard for evidence-based, data-driven economic development.” —  Alejandra Y. Castillo, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development.

Argonne and EDA also joined forces to create an online Economic Development Capacity Index (EDCI). The EDCI is publicly available and can be easily searched. It presents data from 53 data sources across five categories: human capital, finance, infrastructure, industries, networks and partnerships. The data reveal county-level strengths and opportunities for growth and investment.

“The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated and created new partnerships,” said Iain Hyde, who will serve as director of the NERRC in Argonne’s Decision and Infrastructure Sciences division. ​“As a result, Argonne and EDA made a long-term commitment to partnering on economic development research. This benefits everyone.”

According to Hyde, the NERRC will accomplish its goals in multiple ways. It will focus on four areas: data access and analytics, research and analysis, program evaluation, and regular convening of economic resilience researchers and practitioners. It will also help economic developers easily find critical data by keeping it in one comprehensive, centralized place. Ongoing research will address high priority questions from the Department of Commerce Learning Agenda and the broader economic development community. Stakeholders will have access to regularly published research, quarterly webinars and an annual convention at Argonne.

“Argonne is excited to help bring the economic development community together to focus on economic resilience for a long time to come,” said Hyde.

The NERRC will host its first quarterly webinar on December 6. The webinar will introduce economic development stakeholders to the Economic Development Capacity Index. Click here to register.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.