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UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM
From Site Selection magazine, January 2015
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The DIY Approach To Site Research:

Tools You Can Use — For Free

by PATTY RASMUSSEN
W

hy pay someone else to do something you can do for yourself? We’ve compiled some of our favorite site research websites where anyone can mine for data — for free. Save those consulting fees for things only consultants can do.

US Cluster Mapping Tool
http://www.clustermapping.us/

The Harvard Business School and the US Economic Development Administration team up to offer a fantastic interactive tool for EDOs large, medium and small to find reams of statistics about the location of traded and local economy industry clusters. The site offers a glossary of terms and a FAQ page to help you get started but, as with most sites, the best way to learn how to use the tool is to use the tool.

US Census Bureau Glossary
https://www.census.gov/glossary/
The US Census Bureau’s glossary widget gives users speedy access to short definitions of 1,500 terms, such as income, poverty, census tracts, metropolitan areas, US trading partners and more, with links to more information. The widget will update information as changes are made. The Census Bureau even provides a handy URL for embedding on your website.

ACT College and Career Readiness Report (2014 and previous years)
http://www.act.org/research/policymakers/cccr14/
The ACT site offers loads of information about the state of the future workforce (taken as a whole and state by state) as measured by the highly regarded ACT, a research-based nonprofit providing solutions in education and workforce development.

US Energy Information Administration’s Flickr Photostream
https://www.flickr.com/photos/eiagov/
Check out this photo stream for information in the form of high-res graphics, graphs, maps and more related to any energy sector in the US.

DSIRE
http://www.dsireusa.org/
The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) is a terrific site with information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. DSIRE is currently operated by the N.C. Solar Center at N.C. State University, with support from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc., and is funded by the US Department of Energy.

Newgeography
http://www.newgeography.com/

Newgeography is a joint venture of Joel Kotkin and the Praxis Strategy Group. The site offers an annual ranking of “Best Cities for Job Growth,” in overall growth as well as information and manufacturing jobs. I regularly stop what I’m doing to read the daily posts sent from this website. I love it for its thought-provoking, engaging content. Usually what I read on Newgeography in the morning is what I end up talking about at the dinner table that night.

Eurostat statistical service
http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat
Eurostat is the statistical office of the European Union. Its mission is to be the “leading provider of high quality statistics on Europe.” First time visitors to the site should click on the “Help” tab, then click on “First Visit” topic to get an overview of how to use the site.

World Bank Open Data
http://data.worldbank.org/
The Open Data website offers free access to comprehensive, downloadable indicators about development in countries around the globe. The site also provides access to World Bank Live — live discussions open to participants worldwide.

The Pew Charitable Trusts
www.pewtrusts.org

Driven by the mission to help create a more informed and participatory public, the Pew Charitable Trusts website provides a host of information and analysis on everything from the environment to healthcare, from public policy to arts and culture.

McKinsey Global Institute
http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/mgi/research
A global management consulting firm that serves businesses, governments, NGOs and nonprofits, McKinsey & Co.’s Global Institute website shares research on topics including finance, productivity and labor.

Milken Institute
http://www.milkeninstitute.org

The nonprofit Milken Institute seeks to “improve lives around the world by advancing innovative economic and policy solutions.” Once on the site, click on the “Publications” tab to find downloadable reports and links to even more data sites.

National Geographic
www.nationalgeographic.com
By definition, this is the place to go for location-based intelligence, from coverage of ecosystems to community profiles and reports on megaprojects around the world. Growing data resources combine with the magazine’s superior writing and stunning photography to deliver insights about places that you won’t get anywhere else.


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