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5 Ways that Market Analysis Can Inform Your Community’s Comprehensive Plan

November 22, 2021 Tom Dworetsky, AICP

A comprehensive planning process is an opportunity to take a step back and create a vision for the long-term future of a community, touching on issue areas ranging from housing and economic development, to land use and transportation, to education and public health. A comprehensive plan should first and foremost reflect the wants and needs of the community’s residents, but must also be grounded in market realities so that it is achievable. A market analysis can inform your comprehensive plan in these 5 ways:

  1. Assess how private-sector development pressure is impacting local land use. The type of development that a community wants and the type of development that the market is producing are often not aligned. Understanding the market and financial feasibility factors that are leading to these outcomes helps a community envision the most likely future land use if the market is left to own devices and enact policies that steer development toward locally desired outcomes.
  2. Uncover future opportunities for growth and development. Community engagement through your comprehensive planning process might reveal a desire for a new hotel, a senior living facility, or a different retail offering. Market analysis can evaluate whether these uses would be economically feasible and within reach for your community.
  3. Identify market barriers for achieving the community’s vision. Market analysis can identify and quantify hurdles for achieving desired outcomes. Increasing the affordable housing supply or redeveloping a key underutilized parcel may be hampered by funding gaps that need to be closed by the public sector. By recognizing the economic factors at play, a comprehensive plan can be more specific about the types of strategies and tactics that are needed to achieve community goals.
  4. Evaluate your community’s competitive advantages for business attraction and expansion. A thorough understanding of the community’s competitive position within the broader economic region helps uncover the potential for attracting new industry sectors and expanding existing ones. Understanding how geographic location, transportation and infrastructure assets, business environment, and other factors compare locally, regionally, and globally ensures that economic aspirations align with community assets.
  5. Understand how demographic and economic trends impact housing needs. Housing demand within a community is driven by many interrelated factors, including population growth and decline, migration, demographic shifts, access to economic opportunity, affordability, commute patterns, existing housing supply, and more. Translating trends into unit demand numbers provides the basis for establishing measurable unit-count goals that comprehensive plan policies can be designed to achieve.

In short, market analysis ensures that goals outlined in a comprehensive plan are realistic and actionable. For more information on how to incorporate market analysis into your planning process, contact Dan Stevens at dstevens@camoinassociates.com