Research & Publications
Read the research, reports, and publications powering Heartland Forward's work.
As a “think-and-do” tank, our research informs our programs and our programs inform our research. Over the course of 2022, Heartland Forward’s work took both aspects of our mission to new heights.
This report examines the changing geography of talent in America over the past decade 2010-2019. The analysis covers all 350-plus U.S. metros, paying special attention to large metros with over one million people and the 166 metros spanning 20 states that make up America’s heartland region.
The lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines were an unprecedented development and the result of close partnership across government, academia and private biopharmaceutical companies. Usually it takes years to bring therapies and vaccines from bench to bedside, yet development and deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine defied odds and for good reason.
Last week the heartland –and the country– welcomed some very exciting news. Intel Corp announced it would invest up to $100 billion to build potentially the world’s largest chip-making complex in Ohio. The project will bring an initial $20 billion investment; the largest in Ohio’s history on a 1,000-acre site that will create 3,000 permanent jobs on top of an estimated 7,000 construction jobs.
This is the third of three posts looking at the geographic variation in self-employment in the U.S. This looks at the relationship between self-employment rates and the percentage of employer jobs that qualify as opportunity occupations, in the heartland states exclusively.
This is the second of three posts looking at the geographic variation in self-employment in the U.S. This post specifically looks at self-employment rates in specific industries where self-employment options have expanded due to apps and new market models.
This is the first of three posts discussing self-employment and looking at the U.S. self- employment data. This post discusses self-employment in general and compares the rates in metro and non-metro areas of the heartland and non-heartland states.
From releasing cutting-edge policy reports, to standing up a comprehensive effort in our Connecting the Heartland high-speed internet campaign and making it possible for community builders to pursue their entrepreneurship dreams right here in the heartland, 2021 was a very busy year. Here are some of our 2021 highlights!
Economic Savings in America: A Story of Public-Private Partnership in Rapid COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Deployment
The rapid development and deployment of vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic lessened the impact of the virus on the economy, generating an estimated economic savings in the U.S. of $438 billion in terms of 2021 real GDP gain, or 2.3% of 2021 real GDP. These savings, and the development of the vaccine itself, are possible because of the United States’ unique public-private partnership between government agencies, academia and the biopharmaceutical industry that supports innovations in disease therapy.
The signing of the federal infrastructure package is welcome news in the fight to close the digital divide across the heartland. Now the real work begins to make sure every dollar is spent efficiently and in service of the communities it's intended to help. Since Heartland Forward launched our Connecting the Heartland initiative to help close the digital divide, we have had the opportunity to engage with policymakers, subject matter experts, community leaders, digital equity advocates and residents across the heartland. To that end, our work through Connecting the Heartland in the coming months and years will be anchored in four guiding principles.
Reshoring of production activities to the U.S. presents an economic opportunity, particularly for the Heartland. Economic development professionals and policymakers can use import substitution and supply chain gap analysis to identify industries for which reshoring is appropriate.
How a Chinese economic slowdown could impact a vulnerable Heartland trucking industry.
How COVID-19 will impact communities in the Heartland and beyond, and how policymakers can respond
The monitor tracks weekly unemployment insurance data to understand how economies across different states are responding to the COVID-19 induced recession.
Heartland and women entrepreneurs continue to be overlooked by venture capital firms.
Reshoring is the relocation of production facilities to, or the creation of new ones in, the United States. Many domestic and foreign companies are recognizing the strategic advantages of locating in the United States, such as protecting intellectual property, shortening supply chains and shrinking wage differentials between the United States, China and other overseas locations.
COVID-19 presents great challenges to Northwest Arkansas (NWA) as it does to every other community, but the region is in strong standing to weather this global pandemic.
Our Most Dynamic Metropolitan Index and the analysis in this report provide objective insight into the communities providing economic opportunity for their residents, separating high performers from the low.
The newest installment of the annual report, "Most Dynamic Micropolitan Regions," that ranks 515 micropolitans–regions by their economic performance. Out of the micropolitans that Heartland Forward analyzed, Pecos, Texas; Jackson, Wyoming-Idaho; and Summit Park, Utah ranked as the first, second, and third most dynamic micropolitans. Tourism, energy, and robust entrepreneurship were the most common strengths among the top 30 places.
This year will live vividly in our collective memories for decades to come
Nationwide data indicates the economic effects of the pandemic have been disproportionately harmful to women’s careers.
While retail businesses in 10 states across the Heartland received a share of PPP loans greater than or equal to their share of total firms, retail businesses in the other 10 states and other services businesses in all states did not receive their fair share. This could be due to the types of businesses that make up these industries and how the PPP loans were distributed.
Manufacturers in Ohio had the highest participation rate in PPP among Heartland states. In roughly one-third of Heartland states, manufacturers received a greater share of PPP loans than they represented among firms. Among the remaining 13 states, the manufacturers’ share of PPP loans in seven states were within ten percent of their share of all employer firms.
Hospitality industry businesses across the Heartland likely did not receive their fair share of loans in PPP.
Across racial and ethnic categories, Hispanic female-owned businesses received their fair share of PPP loans; in most states, however, female-owned businesses across all five racial categories did not receive a proportionate share of PPP loans to employer firms.
Asian-owned businesses are more likely to be employer firms, and they likely received an equitable share of PPP loans in most Heartland states. American Indian-owned firms, which are much more likely to be non-employer firms, likely did not receive their fair share of PPP loans throughout the Heartland. The disparate employment pattern may explain in part why Asian-owned firms faired better than American Indian-owned firms in receiving PPP loans.
The vast majority of Black- and Hispanic-owned businesses in the Heartland do not have employees, and that may have resulted in the two groups receiving inequitable shares of Payroll Protection Program loans.
We are all invested in the idea of upward economic mobility, grounded in the notion that with hard work, we can build a better life for ourselves, our communities and our children. Unfortunately, the analysis in this report makes it clear that the distribution of opportunity has been and continues to be uneven.
**Message from Heartland Forward's President and CEO - Ross DeVol**
Young firms and the entrepreneurial ecosystems that spawned and nurtured them determine the economic destiny of communities.
Manufacturing faces increased job losses due to COVID-19, but this presents the industry an opportunity to re-evaluate supply chains, introduce new products, and innovate – to leverage the Heartland’s resources and build resilient economies.
Because of the digital divide, not all parts of U.S. have benefited from the utility of broadband connectivity during the coronavirus pandemic
Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota and Louisiana will bear some of the most severe impact from COVID-19, as oil and gas operations suffer. The most extensive negative consequences of COVID-19 on the Heartland will be attributable to the related, but indirect impacts, of reduced oil and gas exploration and extraction operations
A ten-point preparedness plan for our communities
The contributors address a fundamental topic for future economic success in the Heartland: Will Millennials return and remain at higher rates?
A Heartland Start-up Spotlight on Krystal Beachum’s Student-Athletes Unite.
Heartland States Lag Behind Coastal States in the Innovation Economy
Our Most Dynamic Metropolitan Index, and the analysis contained in this report provides objective insight into the communities providing economic opportunity for their residents, separating high performers from the low. Most Dynamic Metropolitans provides fact-based metrics on near-term and medium-term performance and prospects for long-term growth.
The State of the Heartland: Factbook 2018 benchmarks the performance of the 19-state American “Heartland” on 26 socioeconomic measures and is intended to help Heartland leaders and citizens better comprehend the region’s current trajectory at a time of rapid economic and social change.
5G, the fifth generation of wireless communications, has the potential to make the opportunity cost of rural living much larger, maybe insurmountably so.
The American research university is the nation’s best defense against economic competition from the rest of the world. Research shouldn’t be confined to a library, lab, or lecture hall. When it comes to America’s research universities, across the Heartland and beyond, data show that when universities and communities collaborate, the positive impacts on the workforce, tax base, startup activity and economy opportunity grow exponentially.
Smaller locales are not necessarily known for their economic dynamism. Nonetheless, cluster attributes exist through thoughtful guidance. The five communities’ economic successes were not the result of random, serendipitous events.
For more than half a century the U.S. has maintained a competitive edge in the world economy in large measure because of its leadership in research and innovation. To assume that this will continue without change is naive.
Trade and tariffs with China cause economic hardship on America’s Heartland Economy – counties and crops across the Heartland are affected most.