Economic Development


A SWOT analysis of the regional economy should answer the question, “Where are we now?” by using the relevant data (see above) and background information to help identify the critical internal and external factors that speak to the region’s unique assets and competitive positioning.

The SWOT is a strategic planning tool used by organizations to ensure that there is a clear objective informed by a comprehensive understanding of a region’s capabilities and capacity.

A SWOT analysis identifies the region’s competitive advantages—those indigenous assets that make the region special or competitive in the national and global economies—juxtaposed against those internal or external factors that can keep a region from realizing its potential.

Determining and analyzing what the region already possesses that could be leveraged better to build the capacity for growth, including competitive cultural, economic, technological, intellectual and physical assets, is critical to developing the strategic direction and implementation plan to promote regional economic vitality.

Leveraging assets refers to using the activities and engagement of business, government leaders and other stakeholders to maximize the economic potential of a region.

In addition, the SWOT analysis should consider economic resiliency. Specifically, what factors and/or elements are in place (or need to be put in place) to ensure the long-term success, viability, and durability of the regional economy?

SWOT analysis elements are commonly understood in the following terms:
Strengths are a region’s relative competitive advantages (e.g., industry supply chains and clusters, extensive port, rail, and broadband assets, specialized workforce skills, higher education levels, collaboration among stakeholders) and often are internal in nature;

Weaknesses are a region’s relative competitive disadvantages (e.g., a risk-averse or change resistant regional culture), also often internal in nature;

Opportunities are chances or occasions for regional improvement or progress (e.g., expansion of a biosciences research lab in the region), often external in nature; and Threats are chances or occasions for negative impacts on the region or regional decline (e.g., several companies in the region considering moving to lower-cost areas of the state), also often are external in nature.