Ah, but who's smart enough to crunch all those darned numbers?
How about our high school students?
The Miner County Cash Flow Study has been the most successful effort to support local buying in Miner County, SD to date. The study involved high school students surveying county residents about their spending habits and then sharing the results with the public in an effort to help community members understand their impact on the local economy [Mike Knutson, "What Do Your Local Businesses Think?" Reimagine Rural, 2009.12.18].
Knutson also points to a local economic survey in Ames, Iowa, that their Chamber is conducting with volunteers from the local young professionals group. Projects like these are a great way to kill two economic development birds with one stone, getting useful data and engaging young people. Help your students feel like stakeholders, and there's that much more chance they'll stick around to fuel the economic development you're after.