Geographical Information System (GIS) technology applications for use in the field of economic development are relatively new. Local economic development (LED) agencies utilizing GIS programs have noted very favorable results. The realities of a global economy and heightened expectations in the information age have motivated LED agencies to provide a wide range of spatial economic data on the Internet. This chapter reviews emerging GIS economic development applications, and encourages the adaptation of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) by local governments to further enhance the value of such programs.
Utility companies were the early pioneers of automated mapping and the organizing of facilities management data and graphics into computer databases (Robison, 1988). Merging this information, combining computer-aided graphic mapping and the storage capacity of a database, produces a GIS. Once these two systems are merged, the GIS user is then able to ask questions of a map (Denning, 1993). The ability to query maps for information is a powerful tool. According to Robison (1988), a survey of utilities and local governments in the late 1980s indicated that 33% had a GIS program, and of the 67% that did not, 78% had plans to acquire a system within three (3) years.
GIS programs are invariably described as computer systems used for compiling, managing, integrating, manipulating, analyzing, and displaying spatially referenced data.
Though GIS technology was developed in just the last 30 years, it has grown into a billion dollar industry worldwide with over a million daily users in more than 100 countries around the globe (Bernhardsen, 2002). Because GIS programs provide a graphic depiction of the real world by displaying spatial relationships of digital data, any information that can be stored on a computer (digital data) with a geographic nexus, can be modeled and depicted by a GIS program (Ibid).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Shift-Share Analysis: An evaluation technique that explores the relationship of local economic changes to the state and/or national economy; used to identify leading and lagging industries within the local economy
Spatial Analysis: The computing of spatial relationships such as distance, connectivity and directional relationships between spatial units
Location Quotient Analysis: The comparison of an area’s business composition to that of a larger area such as the nation or state.
Local Business Tax: A tax assessed on all enterprises for the privilege of doing business within the jurisdiction. In Miami-Dade County, FL this was previously known as the Occupational License Fee.
Geographic Information System: Any system for capturing, storing, analyzing and managing data and associated attributes which are spatially referenced to earth
Attribute: A characteristic of a geographic feature described by numbers or letters that are linked in a relational database. The attributes of a business represented by a point might include industry, number of employees, the year established, and square footage.
TIGER Files: The topographically integrated geographic encoding and referencing system utilized by the U.S. Census Bureau to correlate survey data to locations throughout the country.