Socio-economic Project Examples

Our work in socio-economic analysis includes:

  • Economic Analysis and Impact Assessment
  • Economic and Demographic Modelling
  • Opportunity and Feasibility Assessment and Marketing
  • Program Evaluation and Monitoring
  • Social Benefit/Cost and Financial and Feasibility Analyses
  • Strategic and Business & Investment Planning
Social, Economic & Municipal Finance Impact Analysis of a Proposed Petro Canada Coal Mine in Alberta (Systems Modelling, Economic & Financial Impact Assessment)
Measurement & Allocation of Responsibility for Social, Economic & Municipal Infrastructure Impacts of the Mica & Revelstoke Dams, British Columbia (Systems Modelling, Economic & Financial Impact Assessment)

damThese assignments were undertaken in short succession. In both we developed Systems Dynamics impact models to measure the demographic, economic and municipal infrastructure impacts.

Petro-Canada wished to understand the full range of impacts of a new coal mine on the local community and the rest of Alberta.

The Revelstoke Dam was built on the Columbia River, 145 km downstream of the Mica Dam. The BC Government and BC Hydro needed to identify which dam was responsible for which unanticipated impacts.

The Systems models were calibrated by ‘back-casting’ to recreate the situation before the coal mine proposal and before the dams’ construction. The models were then run forward under multiple scenarios. The base scenario assumed historical relationships were maintained. Alternative scenarios incorporated:

  • best-judgments of changes in technology, market demand, municipal planning policies and environmental management regulations;
  • risk analysis; and
  • sensitivity testing.

The clients and the stakeholder communities found value in:

  • the systems modelling approach because it enabled them to incorporate best-judgement and expected probabilities of changes in external forces to test for a range of plausible futures;
  • sensitivity testing because it revealed where small assumption changes created large impact changes;
  • their ability to then create a ‘special watch list’ to monitor for changes in sensitive variables; and
  • the ability to create a two tranche compensation plan; an immediate one based on the more likely future and a supplemental/deferred plan that would kick-in if significant changes in the ‘sensitive’ variables began to appear.
Economic Impact of Golf in Canada (Economic Impact Analysis)

2009
– This economic impact study was a first of its kind for the Canadian Golf Industry and remains the most comprehensive economic analysis of golf in Canada.
2014 – The 2009 study was broadened and deepened.

The analyses included:

  • a web-based survey of golf courses and golfers across Canada and generated sample of over 4,000 Canadian golfers and 350 course operators; and
  • construction of an inter-regional input-output economic impact model of Canada.

The study described the scope and magnitude of the impact of golf on the Canadian economy. Most importantly, the National Allied Golf Associations are using the findings to help create a development and growth plan for golf in Canada.

Both studies are available online.

Waterville Airport Relocation Study (Economic & Demographic Modelling) 

airportWaterville Airport is a municipally owned airstrip and business park situated on 38 hectares of land 16 kilometres west of Kentville, NS and is adjacent to the Michelin Tire Waterville Plant (1,300 employed). It is in the top 12% of 187 airports without control towers in terms of aircraft movements.

Michelin announced that it will be investing $346 million USD (2012$) into its North American-based operations over five-years. The Waterville establishment needed access to land to compete for a share of the Michelin North America expansion investments.

Our bid, in association with CBCL Limited, to assess the feasibility of relocating the airport was selected, as stated by the clients, because it took an entrepreneurial approach to the relocation questions and saw the change as a wider opportunity vs a technical exercise.

We prepared a relocation assessment and wrapped it in a comprehensive economic development strategy that had greater prospects than a mere relocation of the Airport for:

  • financial feasibility;
  • more substantial economic impacts;
  • a wider range of potential public and private sector investors; and
  • material support from senior levels of government.

The comprehensive strategy accommodated an expansion by Michelin, enhanced the quality of municipal airport service and dealt with the shortage of planned industrial/commercial land.

The public report is available online.

The relocation of the airport is underway as is the expansion of planned industrial/commercial land.

Business Park Feasibility Assessment and Investment Attraction Plan, for the Municipality of the District of Chester, NS (Opportunity & Feasibility Assessment)

ChesterThe work began in response to a RFP that required an assessment of the financial feasibility of developing a commercial / industrial park.

We worded our proposal carefully to:

  • remain true to the RFP’s requirements; and
  • demonstrate how we would examine other means to capture the kind of growth they assumed a business park would bring, assuming the real goal of the Municipality was enhanced economic growth.

The Municipal Council confirmed that the ultimate goal was to attract new businesses and encourage existing businesses to expand. Therefore, we proceeded to focus on attracting new commercial investment and the role that access to land could play.

We concluded with a four-pronged approach to providing a pool of different types of commercial/industrial land:

  • rezoning to allow development as of right and encourage commercial development along the existing Highway 3 commercial strip;
  • new marketing and selling efforts for heavy industrial land at Kazier Meadow (a recycling / landfill site);
  • development of business park with on-site services; and
  • development of a fully serviced park in the longer term.

We also provided a list of economic development related tasks that the Municipality needed to undertake regardless of the construction of a business park.

Because building and marketing a park are ‘easy’, but selling (making the deal) is hard we provided on-site coaching on network marketing and selling (asking for the buy) that actually began the real work of marketing and selling.

The essential value added we brought to the work was that the goal was not to build a park but to attract investment, which opened the way to creating an investment attraction plan that could work, versus one-shot advice on the yes or no for a park.

Summative Evaluation of the Canada – New Brunswick Co-operation Agreement for Regional Economic Development, for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the NB Regional Development Corporation (Program Evaluation)

The Government of New Brunswick and the Federal Government took multiple years to design the agreement and, seven years to implement and include over 224 projects within 10 ‘themes’. The Governments designed it to be market versus sector driven. That is, as the economic situation evolved the management committee shifted resources to take advantage of emerging trends.

The overall objectives did not change but the market driven design presented a challenge to the evaluation because the original data collection and monitoring plans did not provide the cross-section of projects that evolved over the seven years.

The key value added we brought to the evaluation was the recognition that because the overall objectives did not change the conditions for a meta-analysis (i.e., research about previous research) existed. In technical terms, we were able to identify common statistical measures (effects) shared among the 10 themes whose standard errors enabled the calculation of weighted averages.

Residential Energy Efficiency Programs Evaluation, Prince Edward Island  (Social Benefit/Cost Analysis & Feasibility Assessment)

We, in association with Conestoga Rovers & Associates and Kirk Brown Energy Consulting, measured the effectiveness and objectives achievement of residential energy efficiency programs. Effectiveness was measured in terms of changes in energy use, environmental impacts, net financial impacts and net economic impacts

The majority (98%) of participants were expected to see a reduction in energy consumption sufficient to result in an average participant Internal Rate of Return of 12.4% over 13 years, +/-1.6 percentage points at 90% confidence.

Some notable results include:

  • The 13-year net economic impacts on the PEI economy would amount to about $6.81 million in GDP (+/-9.2% with 90% confidence).
  • Residential energy consumption over 13 years would decline by 357,430 GJ, +/- 8.6% with 90% confidence.
  • CO2 emissions would be reduced by more than 4,800 tonnes per year.

The essential value added we brought to the work was the use of stochastic modelling to take into account potential variations in the accuracy of energy audits, likelihood of ranges in and energy cost projections, variance in the quality of the installation of energy saving technology, unexplained variance of historical energy prices, etc. The 25,000 simulation runs:

  • provided solutions for every possible combination of variance in price projections, audit accuracy, etc.; and
  • enabled us to provide confidence intervals and confidence levels for all of the key findings.

We did not need to rely on one average measure that might be representative of a minority of cases. Instead, we were able to test the effectiveness of the programs over a complete range of possibilities at 90% confidence and found that even at the extremes of the confidence intervals the programs were a net benefit to individuals and the overall economy.

Business Development and Capital Investment Plan for the Digby Municipal Airport (now the Digby-Annapolis Regional Airport) (Strategic, Business & Investment Planning)

We, with CBCL Limited and LPS Aviation as sub-consultants, prepared a business development plan for the Digby-Annapolis Regional Airport (formerly named the Digby Municipal Airport).

The Municipality of the District of Digby owns the airport. It determined that the status quo was not an option. The choices were closure or investment and marketing for growth.

The Municipality accepted the following guiding hypotheses for testing and to guide the work:

  • The airport is a key component of Digby and Annapolis Counties’ infrastructure.
  • Opportunities should derive from closer ties between area business and tourism agencies and transportation.
  • Levels of service should improve, or at least remain the same.
  • The land base of the airport should be considered for a broader range of uses.
  • Only a sustainable management approach is acceptable.
  • The airport may not necessarily be financially self-sufficient, especially in the short term.
  • The airport’s economic value may exceed a potential negative cash flow.
  • The economic value could attract participation by neighbouring municipalities.

We proceeded to test each hypothesis and found sufficient evidence to support business and investment plans. The business plan included:

  • a statement of the airport’s role in the economy;
  • creation of new lines of business;
  • target markets;
  • positioning, pricing and promotion for the targets;
  • a physical plan;
  • a surplus land development plan;
  • an implementation plan;
  • a funding plan; and
  • financial projections (including risk and sensitivity analyses).

The business and investment plan is being implemented. The development of airport property for industrial/commercial uses is underway and active planning is now underway for a fly-in community development. Neighbouring municipalities are contributing to the plan; hence the renaming.

The essential value added we brought to the assessment was the creation of hypotheses to test and proceeding to the creation of the business and investment plans only if each hypothesis was proven to be plausible. We then built the plan around the logical and plausible conditions for success.