© 2014 by by Highland Economics. 

Leveraging Economic Insights since 2013

Regional Economic Impacts

How many jobs will this project generate?  Will local people be hired?
What is the economic contribution of this industry to the local economy?   Which sectors benefit?
Which project alternative will provide the greatest local economic impact?

​These are important questions  - whether to highlight the benefits of a project or industry for policy reasons, to aid in decision-making, to inform the public and garner support, or to obtain grant funding.  Highland Economics has answered these questions for diverse clients and a wide variety of industries, projects, and policies.


Highland Economics staff have been conducting economic impact studies for ten years with Highland principal Barbara Wyse leading the practice area.  Our work is highly defensible, and avoids the double-counting and over-inflation of results that are unfortunately common in this type of analysis.  At Highland, we clearly differentiates between "with Project" and "without Project" impacts, and groundtruth our results with local interviews and information.


Our economists have experience estimating the jobs, income and tax impacts of industries, projects, and regulations in the following sectors:


  • Wind and Solar Energy Development


  • Oil and Gas Development


  • Linear Facilities (pipelines, railroads, transmission lines, etc)


  • Mining


  • Residential Development


  • Irrigated Agriculture


  • Water Development


  • Industrial Facilities


  • Habitat Restoration 



Example Regional Impact Analysis Projects

Economic Impact of Haile Gold Mine, South Carolina


In this project, we constructed a detailed regional economic impact model (using IMPLAN software) to estimate how construction and operation activities at the mine would directly and indirectly support jobs and income in the regional economy.  We closely analyzed all factors that would determine the level of local economic impact, including commuting patterns (i.e., the proportion of labor thatwould be provided from outside the region), the local pool of skilled available workers, the proportion of mining construction and operation jobs that are specialized and highly skilled, experiences from other regions, and the availability of local housing.


Economic Impact of Additional Surface Water and Groundwater Supplies, California


For Kern County Water Agency, Highland Economics annually conducts an assessment of the regional economc impact of importing water to augment local supplies; the water is used for agricultural irrigation and to recharge groundwater supplies. The direct benefits of the water supply augmentation include additional cultivated agricultural acreage, as well as lower groundwater pumping costs (due to reduced depth to groundwater) to all groundwater users.  We estimate the increased agricultural production value by crop as well as the energy cost savings to Kern County, and then develop a customized IMPLAN model of the Kern County economy to estimate total economic impact of the water supplies.  Our customized IMPLAN impact model accurately reflects the agricultural crops and practices in the area, based on local crop budgets and information from local growers.  We use this model to estimate how direct impacts in the agricultural industry translate into total job and income impacts (including direct, indirect, and induced economic impacts) in the Kern County economy. Our final results and study provide insight into the economic relationship between  water supply and total income and employment int eh county, and provide support for a local tax that partially funds the water imports.


Economic Impact of a New Manufacturing Facility, Oregon


Highland Economics conducted an economic impact study for a confidential client regarding the economic impact of a new manufacturing facility.  To estimate the direct economic contribution of the facilty, we developed detailed expenditure data for both the construction and operation phases.  We also carefully identified where materials and labor would be sourced from, so as to attribute the correct level of economic benefits to the regional or state economies.  Highland Economics worked with equipment manufacturers and contractors to develop expenditure estimates for construction scenarios (including the type and cost of materials and labor required, and the location from which these would be manufactured or supplied).  We also worked with the client to estimate direct operating employment and expenditures.  We then analyzed this direct impact information in an IMPLAN regional economic impact model to estimate total (direct, indirect, and induced) economic impacts in terms of jobs, income, and ouptut.  Study results highlighted the economic contribution of the project to the  local and the state economies.


Economic Impact of Reduced Irrigation Water Supplies, California


For Merced Irrigation District, Highland Economics (as a subcontractor) is estimating the regional econoimc impact of reduced irrigation supplies, considering not only the on-farm production effects but also potential effects on producton by food processors. This involves researching agricultural productivity in the study area, and understanding the forward linkage relationships that exist between growers and processors. To accomplish this, we have gathered statistical data on agricultural output, tailored crop budgets to the study area, and are conducting interviews with growers and processors. We developed a customized IMPLAN impact model that accurately reflects the agricultural crops and practices in the area, and provides the most accurate estimates of value added, jobs, and labor income supported by agriculture.  We used this model to estimate how direct impacts at the farm and food processing manufacturing industry translate into total job and income impacts (including direct, indirect, and induced economic impacts) in the county economy. Our final results and study provide insight into the economic relationship between  water supply, agricultural producers, food processors, and the economic dependence of othe Merced County economy on the agricultural sector.