The Community Development Finance Authority
(CDFA) is the financial engine that drives community economic development across New Hampshire. To help guide planning and funding priorities, CDFA collected data sets from the census and disparate government agencies for years. Often, data sets went stale. In 2019, the organization undertook an initiative to modernize its data collection, analysis and visualization capacity. The commitment to and key driver for this initiative is articulated in CDFA’s Living Strategic Plan: CDFA looks to meet communities’ self-articulated goals, while fostering more coordinated, long-term thinking about the broader needs of communities on a statewide basis. CDFA will increasingly provide its technical and financial resources to all communities, large and small, and notwithstanding the varying capacities of communities.
To create their Community Progress Indicators, which assist in measuring socioeconomic well-being and community need at the municipal level in New Hampshire, CDFA engaged with the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute
(NHFPI) and a fellow from the Carsey School of Public Policy
at the University of New Hampshire to analyze possible data sources.
Next, CDFA needed a tool for visually displaying these socioeconomic indicators, such as Basic Human Needs, Access to Opportunity, and Community Sustainability and Vibrancy, in a geo-referenced manner. The CDFA team evaluated their options based on the reliability of the data, how regularly data was updated, at what geographic scale data was accurate, and how effectively they could measure community strength and other indicators.