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Turning an Impact Analysis Into Grant Funds

March 7, 2022 Rachel Selsky, AICP

Magnifying glass sits on print outs of data analysis tables

It isn’t fun, it is often stressful, and you certainly don’t want to have to do it again, but grants are often a necessary part of community development projects. With more projects than ever looking for funding, state and federal grantors want projects that are well thought out, have the data to back up the narrative, and will offer the greatest return on their investment in terms of jobs, wages, and tax revenue.

Finding ways to strengthen your grant application is critical to having greater success, and one way to do that is by incorporating the results of an economic impact analysis. Using the findings of an impact analysis can help create a more cohesive and comprehensive story of why the project is important to the region and the ripple effect that will be felt if the grant is awarded. The following are some tips to conducting an impact analysis for use in a grant application:

  • Consider the whole project: While you may only be applying for funds for a specific piece of the overall project, consider whether without funding for that component, the rest of the project is likely to happen or not. If it is reasonable to assume that the rest of the project will not happen without the grant funds, then the impact analysis should be conducted on the full end result.
  • Be clear and concise: An economic impact analysis can include tables, charts, and a significant narrative around methodology. A grant application is not the place for a detailed listing of assumptions, but a simple paragraph outlining the findings of the impact analysis can be very powerful.
  • Include both construction and operation: Depending on what the grant funds will be used for, the impact of the project may include both temporary impacts of construction, as well as ongoing operation. The grant application narrative should include details about both phases.
  • Consider other drivers of impact: In addition to the on-site jobs upon completion, a grant funded project may also drive visitation to the region. By calculating the economic and fiscal impact of this visitation, the full impact of the project is considered and measured.
  • Measure the return on investment: When considering what geography to select for the analysis, consider who the grantors are and what their region of focus may be. For example, if the funds are coming from the state, the narrative can demonstrate the return on investment from the grantor and be more meaningful if you measure the project’s impact on state income tax and sales tax receipts.

With all the funds being made available from state and federal sources, now is the time to prepare your project information so you are ready to apply. More and more applications are requesting data on the impact of the project being considered. Having an impact analysis completed by a third party can provide grant applicants with confidence in the results, consideration of additional sources of impact, and stronger ammunition to tell the story of the value of the project.

A recent example of a grant application that was supported by an impact analysis that Camoin Associates worked on is the Retreat Farm Economic and Fiscal Impact Analysis project in Battleboro, Vermont.