This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.

Creating the TBL Tool To ensure that TBL Tool is both theoretically sound and responsive to user needs, its development incorporated

leading-edge practice, best available science, practitioner feedback, and community-defined priorities. The develop- ment process included:

 Leading-Edge Practice: Tools to assess TBL or sustainability impacts have been created for economic development- related sectors such as business, real estate, and infrastructure. More than 20 of these tools were reviewed in order to identify potential implications for the content and design of the TBL Tool.

 Current Scholarship: An extensive literature review was conducted in order to inform the TBL Tool content and design, and to identify examples of TBL economic development in practice.

 Community Priorities: Tool development began with the premise that economic development investment should align with and support community-defined priorities. More than 30 comprehensive indicator programs from across the United States were reviewed in order to better understand whether common priorities exist across communi- ties of various size, type, and location and, if so, what those are.

 Practitioner Input: The research team engaged with economic development professionals and topic experts to en- sure that the TBL Tool is relevant and user-friendly. Engagement occurred via focus groups, interviews, surveys and a national advisory council.

 Economic Vitality—Investments promote regional economic strength and resilience, are fiscally sound, and provide access to good quality jobs.

 Natural Resource Stewardship—Investments make efficient use of natural capital, and ecosystem health is maintained or restored.

 Community Well-Being—Investments cultivate distinctive and well-functioning communities in which to work and live, preserve or enhance unique culture, and promote health and opportunity.

Performance areas and measures have been defined for

each of the three goals, as seen in an image of a report in Figure 9-1. Measures for the TBL Tool were defined with consideration to availability and quality of data, as well as responsiveness to project context. Project scoring is based on multi-criteria decision

analysis, a widely-used design and decision-support technique that allows items of interest that are measured in different ways to be considered together. For example, jobs, environmental quality, place-making and governance are measured differently; however, multi-criteria analysis provides a scoring mechanism helpful for “apples and oranges” comparisons.6 The TBL Tool draws upon three types of information to generate a project score:

1) geographic information (e.g., project location relative to a sensitive natural resource or transit);

2) industry information (e.g., NAICS-code related environmental performance); and

3) user-defined information (e.g., items for which no national datasets exist, such as building or community-engagement). (See Figure 9-2 for an image of a mapping page).

The scoring framework accounts for diverse sizes and

types of projects and communities. The TBL Tool scores each goal, performance area and

measure on a scale of zero to 100. The color-coded quartile legend indicates how well a project seems to be configured for TBL performance.7 The TBL Tool report and support information for a

project can be viewed by the person who registered the information and is not publicly accessible. A PDF of the project report is generated, should the user wish to share this information. When reviewing scores, it is important to conduct due diligence, confirming the veracity of responses and exploring whether a project may be configured for stronger performance. The TBL Tool website ( includes a brief video

introduction to the tool, User’s Guide, and Data Document. The TBL Tool User’s Guide provides detailed information about the development and application of the tool as well

6 Thomas L. Saaty and Michael P. Niemira, “A Framework for Making Better Decisions: How to Make More Effective Site Selection, Store Closing and

Other Real Estate Decisions,” Research Review, Vol. 13 (No. 1), 2006, pp. 44-48, retrieved April 18, 2013. 7 In the beta version, the top-score range of 76 to 100 suggests that a project appears to be “strongly aligned with TBL goals”; projects with a point range from 51 to 75 appear to be “moderately aligned”; projects with a score of 26-50 appear to be “weakly aligned”; and projects scoring between 0 and 25 appear to be poorly aligned with TBL goals.


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