Client Snapshot: Brock Terry, Western Illinois University

February 2, 2009 by Emsi Burning Glass

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Brock Terry
GIS Analyst
Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs
Western Illinois University
Macomb, Illinois

When major floods inundated parts of Illinois in 2008, Brock Terry and his colleagues at the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs were commissioned to look at the impacted areas to see what industries were affected on a ZIP code level. A key piece of the puzzle was facilitated using EMSI’s comprehensive labor market information. First, the IIRA staff collected geographic information system (GIS) files from satellite imagery of the flood-impacted regions, and then overlaid the files with ZIP codes. Terry next went into EMSI’s web-based tool to gather pre-flood benchmark data – everything from the number of jobs broken down by industry sector to wages for specific occupations in specific ZIPs. The goal was to show the governor’s office and state legislators how many people and jobs were affected by the floods. The research, for example, found that 310 businesses were impacted along the Mississippi River, which amounted to 2,984 employees. According to Terry, “Because (EMSI has) data all the way down to the ZIP code level, instead of saying, ‘In this county …’ it was nice to get to the ZIP code level.” He added, “It’s nice to say at the end of the report, ‘This is the number of jobs affected, these are the occupations.'”