News Release

Argonne upgrade lets data portal users ​“get NERDE” about economic resilience

Argonne’s updated online data explorer provides community leaders and administrators with more accessible, easier-to-use economic development data

Reports and Proceedings

DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

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Credit: (Image by Argonne National Laboratory.)

Community leaders and administrators now have a more powerful tool for understanding their communities’ economic strengths and vulnerabilities, thanks to the newly enhanced and cleverly monikered National Economic Resilience Data Explorer (NERDE). The online data portal’s enhanced second edition makes it easier for users to create economic development plans, improve resilience and apply for economic assistance and grants.

NERDE first launched as a partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) in 2022. Since then, both the number of users and scope of its resources have grown tremendously.

“We spent the past year and a half talking to as many user groups as we could to learn exactly how people are using the portal, and what data was important to them,” explained Iain Reed Hyde, director of the National Economic Research and Resilience Center at Argonne. ​“We learned that NERDE has been highly useful for grant applications, comprehensive economic development strategies and market research. It has helped users to better understand their strengths. And what challenges to focus on.”

NERDE data includes statistics regarding local economic distress, employment and gross domestic product, local industry clusters, climate risk and innovation. The platform provides this information for more than 3,000 counties and for every economic development district in the United States.

“Since its launch, NERDE has proved itself to be a valuable resource for local leaders and development professionals pursuing evidence-based, data-driven economic development,” said Alejandra Y. Castillo, assistant secretary of commerce for economic development. ​“Its new, user-friendly interface and additional data will only increase its value to users of all levels as they work to improve the economic resilience of their communities.”

Many of NERDE’s new features aim to improve its user experience. Specifically, the new release presents data in ways that are more consistent with administrators’ and developers’ anticipated use. For example, the upgrade makes it easier for users to compare their community’s strengths and weaknesses to those of neighboring communities. This was a need often cited by user groups, and it provides users with ​“tool tips” that help explain why various metrics are important to resilience. Additionally, users are able to better understand how data can be used in analysis, planning and grant applications.

“We really wanted to increase NERDE’s value for users in the beginner and medium experience categories,” said Alison Turner, a senior economic development researcher at Argonne. ​“So, this new release focuses on using narrative elements to deliver more context around the data — as opposed to simply delivering the data itself.”

The upgrade also includes a redesigned local ​“snapshot” called ​“My Community Report.” This tool provides the types of metrics in which a beginner or occasional user may have more interest. Metrics are chosen based on the user’s geographic location (e.g., rural vs. urban). Users can explore data at the neighborhood level or select multiple counties simultaneously to create a custom development district to analyze.

In addition to more capabilities, the new edition of NERDE provides more types of data. Users can now access information from Argonne’s Economic Development Capacity Index (EDCI) alongside other NERDE data. They can view metrics on patent claims and Small Business Innovation Research grants. These stats provide insights into local innovation and small business development activity. Users can also access data and maps regarding potential risks to communities posed by climate change. And they can analyze U.S. Census trade data at the state level. More advanced users will be able to access all of this data through a redesigned application programming interface. This creates a ​“one-stop shop” for community-level economic data.

In fact, U.S. Census played a significant role in NERDE’s upgrade. The NERDE development team participated in a 12-week technology development ​“sprint” that focused on building data platforms for public officials. The sprint was part of the U.S Census Bureau’s Open Innovation Labs’ The Opportunity Project (TOP).

“The TOP sprint helped us get insights from multiple user groups working within local economic development and local policymaking circles,” said Carmella Burdi, geographic information systems and data analytics group leader at Argonne. ​“These insights helped us home in on what enhancements would help the widest variety of users improve their communities’ economic resilience more easily and effectively.”

All NERDE’s new features aim to build on the tool’s growing success as an indispensable resilience building tool. Please join the NERDE development team for a comprehensive training webinar on Tuesday, March 5 at 12 p.m. CT, or on Monday, March 18 at 2 p.m. CT.  Both webinars contain the same information so choose the time and date that works best for you. Register here to receive a meeting link.

Please visit this link to learn more about what NERDE and other National Economic Research and Resilience Center tools can do for your community’s economic growth.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.

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