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Region Identification

Sector strategies can also be called “regionally targeted industry strategies.” The word region is an important one, and defining the right region to target is an important step in developing your sector initiative.

While you may begin from an existing defined region – such as a workforce investment area, WIRED region, MSA, etc – it is important to realize that industry sectors and employers do not tend to organize themselves neatly in these boundaries, and you should not limit your sector initiative to them. The right region for you might not be defined or limited by political boundaries such as city or county lines, workforce development areas, economic development regions, or public school districts. Instead, your region should be defined based on labor market analysis.

In thinking about your region, there are two main things to consider. These are the labor shed (for businesses in the target geography, where do the workers live?) and the commute shed (where do people who live in the target geography work?). The US Census Bureau offers a powerful and dynamic tool called OnTheMap, which can be used for assessing both labor and commute sheds for nearly all states in the US. Detailed instructions on using OnTheMap are out of the scope of this toolkit, but there are tutorials available on the website. OnTheMap was used to develop this sample labor market analysis for the City of Detroit.

In addition to or besides OnTheMap, you can look for local commuting or transportation studies to understand where workers and jobs are located in your region.

You will need to define a region in order to do the detailed data collection described in the target industry identification section that follows. But keep in mind that your region may vary depending on the target industry, so it will be important to review your geographic definition once you start to narrow down your list of potential industries. You may find that employment in that industry is concentrated in a smaller subset of your original region, or that there are important clusters of employment located just outside of your original region of analysis.