Economic Diversity in Appalachia

Author(s): Edward Feser, Troy Mix, Mark White, Ken Poole, Deb Markley, and Erik Pages
Author Organization(s): University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Regional Economics Applications Laboratory and the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, with assistance from the RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship and EntreWorks Consulting

This study, commissioned by the Appalachian Regional Commission, analyzes economic diversity trends in Appalachian counties and sub-regions using four indexes of diversity: industrial, functional, occupational, and knowledge. The study also summarizes diversity trends, economic development practices, and diversification strategies in ten Appalachian counties, and offers general lessons about what diversity means for economic development practice. An accompanying Web-based tool includes data and maps along with interactive features for exploring diversity trends in Appalachia and in the United States as a whole.

[Authors of the study held a one-hour webinar on Tuesday, March 11, 2014, to demonstrate use of the Web-based tool. A recording of the webinar and a PDF of the webinar presentation (PDF: 951 KB) are available.]

The study comprises four documents: Statistics, Strategies, and Guides for Action, which summarizes the findings, metrics, and methodology of the study; Case Studies in Economic Diversification, which provides extensive narratives of the research conducted in the ten case study counties; Practitioner’s Guide for Planning and Analysis with the Appalachian Economic Diversity Web Tool; and Statistical Portrait of Economic Diversity in Appalachia, which provides additional details and analysis of the diversity metrics.

The compilation PDF below includes all four of these documents; the individual documents are listed under “Report Contents.”

The Appalachian Economic Diversity Web Tool is available at