2020 in Review

Published on Jan 5, 2021

Updated on Nov 3, 2022

Written by Christy Clark

2020 in Review

To put it mildly: last year has been difficult for communities. The pandemic forced many organizations to reassess how they operate and highlighted the importance of data-informed decisions. Emsi’s Community Insights Consulting team was blessed to work with many great community leaders, staff, and stakeholders focused on supporting their businesses, upskilling their workforce, strengthening their industries, and recovering their economies. As we embark on a new year, we are inspired by the diversity of work we saw in 2020 and want to take a quick look back. Below is a sampling of projects that advanced community priorities and get us excited about what can be accomplished in 2021.

Tulsa Regional Chamber – Dislocated Workforce Study

Emsi Project Lead – Eric Walker, Senior Consultant

The Tulsa Regional Chamber commissioned Emsi to complete a comprehensive analysis of Tulsa’s dislocated workforce in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. In partnership with Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), Emsi completed an evaluation of industry sector health, the demographic characteristics of dislocated workers, and the active demand for resilient skills and employment opportunities. Through industry interviews, CAEL supplemented this data-driven view with stakeholder input on current business challenges, resource gaps indicated by workers and employers, and training needs to give the unemployed a path back into work.

“Our main priority is to position the Tulsa region for post-pandemic recovery, and one way to do that is to make sure the tools and training we’re offering our workforce align with the skills area employers are looking for,” said Rue Ramsey, vice president of workforce and talent strategies at the Tulsa Regional Chamber. “It’s also important we capture diverse feedback to ensure our resiliency strategies are inclusive of our entire region. This study will shape our future workforce development strategy by providing a better understanding of what skill sets are available in the talent pipeline and what will be needed to compete in the future job market.”

The final findings and recommendations of this work will inform engagement with regional leadership and provide a path to position Tulsa’s workforce for the future. In addition to written analysis and implementation guides, Emsi’s creation of an interactive career pathway dashboard will provide a frontline resource to equip regional workers, businesses, and training partners with data-driven realignment strategies.

“The timing of this work presented an opportunity to build a data-driven recovery strategy. We have been able to look back at Tulsa’s historic economic conditions with three-quarters of disruption from the pandemic to plan key steps to support their workforce recovery,” said Eric Walker, senior consultant at Emsi.

Greater Green Bay Chamber – Economic Development Scoreboard

Emsi Project Lead – Dustin Lester, Vice President of Consulting

Emsi and eIMPACT worked with the Greater Green Bay Chamber to develop an economic development scorecard at GreenBayMade.com, a first of its kind for tracking key economic indicators in the Greater Green Bay Metropolitan Statistical Area.

“The scoreboard is an economic performance dashboard providing metrics demonstrating the broad economic health of the Greater Green Bay MSA’s economy including target industries”, said Kelly Armstrong, vice president of economic development, Greater Green Bay Chamber.

The site provides the latest labor market, industry, and socioeconomic data available, and reports metrics on business expansion projects in Brown County and the Greater Green Bay MSA. This includes job impacts, earnings impacts, capital investment impacts, and overall tax revenue-generation for the Green Bay economy.

“The ability to communicate this kind of data effectively is crucial to successful economic growth,” said Laurie Radke, president, and CEO, Greater Green Bay Chamber. “It can make all the difference in landing projects, receiving funding, and creating needed policy changes.”

Emsi and eIMPACT expanded their partnership to serve the Greater Green Bay Chamber with the economic development scorecard. eIMPACT built the custom dashboard and integrated Emsi labor market analytics and custom data sets including Emsi’s regional economic well-being data, Job Postings Index, Health Risk Index, and an Economic Impact Analysis of the Greater Green Bay Chamber’s 2020 projects.

“One of the biggest highlights from this project was visualizing Emsi’s economic impact methodology in a place where everyone in a region can see Greater Green Bay Chamber’s success.,” said Dustin Lester, vice president of consulting, Community Insights at Emsi.

UNCF – Advancing Data-Driven Approaches to Closing Workforce Equity Gaps

Emsi Project Lead – Hector Acosta, Senior Consultant

The goal of this project, in partnership with Strada Education Network, UNCF, the Harvard Kennedy School and their partner, the Institute for Excellence in Government, was to close workforce opportunity gaps for students of color and young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds. Emsi was brought onboard to provide economic and workforce data insights and to develop two skills-based economic dashboards. 

UNCF, Atlanta, and Columbus have set out to tackle a difficult challenge: create sustainable, equitable growth by identifying opportunities for disadvantaged populations, particularly the Black community. While there is no single solution for such a challenge, with Emsi’s SkillScape and Reemployment Dashboard these cities now have the data and insights for the job. And that’s a testament to the collaborative nature of the project.

“One particularly unique aspect of this project is the level of engagement from stakeholders. In all, we have almost 50 organizations between Atlanta and Columbus that were engaged in the development of SkillScape and have access to it as part of this pilot project,” said Hector Acosta, senior consultant at Emsi.

Workforce development is complex. But actionable data that can speak to the unique situation of disadvantaged groups has long been missing. Now skills cluster data can help identify specific gaps that strain Atlanta and Columbus employers and prevent equitable growth.

“Leaders are eager for a quality, accessible, easy-to-share, easy-to-engage-with way to process and engage new workforce information,” said Julian Thompson, strategist at UNCF. Julian Thompson delivered the keynote address at the Emsi20 Conference, where he discussed this important project.

Indiana Economic Development Corporation – Economic Impact Studies

Emsi Project Lead – Joma Neyman, Economic Analyst 

Emsi worked with Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to conduct several economic impact analyses. These analyses highlighted and estimated the economic impacts of the company growth supported by IEDC incentive programs.

“When evaluating the use of incentives and our strategic approach to attracting and supporting the expansion of businesses in Indiana, it’s incredibly important we understand the potential long-term impact of a project,” said Mark Wasky, IEDC vice president, innovation & strategic initiatives. “We’re extremely grateful for the resources and insight Emsi provides as we navigate economic development projects across the state.”

Two types of impacts were measured, the short-run spending impact from the initial capital investment by the companies, and the long-run job creation impact. These perspectives highlighted how economic impacts can far extend beyond their analyzed timeframe. The economic impact analyses were helpful to IEDC as they evaluated the impact the organization had on Indiana’s economy as they competed for economic development projects.

“It was exciting to understand that our objective economic impact analysis was helpful to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. We pride ourselves on providing analyses using conservative methodologies to help economic development organizations make data-informed decisions,” said Joma Neyman, economic analyst at Emsi.

American Psychological Association – Career Pathways

Emsi Project Lead – Ludwig Paul Linares, Data Scientist / Economist

In the current job market, people must prepare for future careers in a world where some jobs may not yet exist, and some of the required skills are being determined on the job. The focus of the American Psychological Association (APA) career pathways report was to help identify where individuals with a psychology degree end up and the path they took to get there. The results of the project were used by research leaders to discuss the constantly changing workforce and provide clarity on the career pathways of psychology degree holders.

“APA’s project with Emsi explored the connection between psychology education and work in ways that will prepare psychology for the future. Our work with Emsi filled in gaps in our workforce research, especially in job pathways after earning psychology degrees and the skills that these individuals possess,” said Karen Stamm, PhD, director, Center for Workforce Studies, American Psychological Association.

Emsi used its robust profile database to create a customized career pathway model that helped provide answers to the questions posed by APA:


  • What are the common career pathways and common skills for bachelor’s degree holders in psychology?

  • What are the common career pathways and common skills for master’s and doctoral psychology degree holders?

“The APA Career Pathways project summarizes a wonderful budding partnership between Emsi and the American Psychological Association which has blossomed during the past year. By combining the expertise of APA and the one a kind Emsi profiles data, we achieved a unique product that will ultimately help answer the existing hypothesis where in the past we were only able to make educated guesses,” said Ludwig Paul Linares, data scientist/economist at Emsi.

In Sum—and Looking Ahead

Emsi’s Community Insights Consulting Team worked with 31 organizations last year to help ensure those communities come out of the pandemic more resilient, inclusive, and prepared for prosperous growth. This would not have been possible without the clients, partners, and our consulting team investing their time, and committing to the important work. The team’s focus continues to be on the application of Emsi data in innovative and measurable solutions for economic development, workforce development, and industry-focused organizations. We look forward to working with many great communities, leaders, and partners in 2021.

Learn how Emsi’s Community Insights Consulting team can help your community, or contact Dustin Lester directly to start discussing your community’s priorities and projects.


Eric Walker, Senior Consultant

Joma Neyman, Economic Analyst

Ludwig Paul Linares, Data Scientist/Economist

Hector Acosta, Senior Consultant

Dustin Lester, Vice President of Consulting