(YE) traces its roots back to 2006 when the foundation recognized a need for more in-depth, accessible data about economic activity – especially at the local level – to help economic developers, researchers and policymakers recognize trends and make better decisions.

The website draws its raw data from Dun & Bradstreet databases and the National Establishment Time-Series (NETS), a longitudinal data source from Walls & Associates. This longitudinal data enables YE to track business-level performance not just at a static moment in time, but over a period of years.

Today YE is owned and managed by the University of Wisconsin Extension Division for Business and Entrepreneurship. The site features 13 indicators that make it easier to slice and dice data. The default indicator (ALL) shows the impact of all establishments for a specified geographic region and time period. Five indicators dive deeper and look at the performance of different types of companies: Resident, Nonresident, Noncommercial, External Market and Local Market establishments. Seven other indicators zoom in on various kinds of establishment activity: New Startups, Expansion Startups, Closings, Expansions, Contractions, Move In and Move Out.

Each indicator is subdivided into five employment stages that reflect different operational and management issues companies face as they grow larger: Self-employed (1 employee); Stage 1 (2 to 9 employees); Stage 2 (10 to 99 employees); Stage 3 (100 to 499 employees); and Stage 4 (500 or more employees).

Other highlights include:

  • Bar graphs that break down establishment, job and sales information according to the five employment stages.
  • A details page that shows the actual numbers behind all percentages for whatever indicator, region and time period you’re looking at.
  • A rankings page that compares your selected geographic region and time period to other states, MSAs or counties.
  • A time-series chart showing year-to-year peaks and valleys since 1995 for the selected indicator.

Bottom line, these metrics provide a new lens to view the business composition of your community and growth trends of your companies – and how that growth is reflected in new jobs and sales.

Although YE’s dataset is large and detailed, you don’t need a doctoral degree in spreadsheet design to use it. You don’t need to spend hours reading tutorials, and you don’t need an economist standing over your shoulder to interpret the numbers. Finding unique, relevant data is a simple matter of jumping on the website and clicking your mouse. No hassles, no headaches.

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