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Extension > Source > Spring 2014 > Creating stronger communities > Dissecting the economy

Dissecting the economy

Communities need good data to make good decisions

Bruce Schwartau

Photo: Andrew Link/Winona Daily News

Bruce Schwartau, Extension community economics educator, presents an analysis to the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce.

The dynamics of the retail industry in Greater Minnesota reflect a growing regionalism. Minnesotans often live in one town while they work and educate their children in another. And, they shop in many different communities.

To help retailers understand this dynamic and respond, Extension provides retail trade analyses to towns throughout the state. Extension community economics educators like Bruce Schwartau scrutinize reams of data on spending patterns and help leaders understand how to boost retail business success.

This resulting "deep dive" helps leaders better understand how to optimize spending in their communities. Extension conducted more than 50 applied-research projects in 2013.

Understanding where the dollars flow informs local decisions. "We know that people drive 40 miles or more to shop in places like Fairmont in Martin County," Schwartau says. "What does that mean for the rest of the region? By examining a host of factors, communities throughout Martin County can work together and choose their plan to share and expand the retail pie."

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