Benchmarking can and should be a core part of any community strategic planning effort, including the development of a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). Benchmarking is one way to “keep score,” i.e., to assess how your region performs in relation to similarly-situated communities and to “best in class” locations as well.
This brief offers an introduction to the process of community benchmarking. It begins by making the case for benchmarking and what can be learned by comparing your region to other regions. Next, it turns to the nuts and bolts of benchmarking: how to select locations to benchmark, what should you measure, and how you can capture and present essential data and findings. Finally, it concludes with suggestions for how best to communicate the findings to community stakeholders, spark action and commitment from key partners, and improve the operations of your organization and your partners.