The Economic Impact of Agency 229: An examination of industry and community impacts
MetadataShow full item record
The social and economic impacts of Agency 229 on the Commonwealth of Virginia are vast and diverse. As a state-funded entity, legislative bodies often ask Agency 229 to illustrate those impacts. Currently, 229 faculty assess research and extension programming using quantitative metrics such as head-counts at trainings and research dollars awarded. Outcomes of activities are communicated qualitatively through impact statements that provide summary information on trainings and anecdotal evidence of benefits to attendees and those who benefit from direct technical assistance. Occasionally, researchers will team up with the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics to assess the potential economic impact of an innovation. Others who focus on agricultural products sold through nationwide and commodity markets will compare yield gains over time and attribute a portion of gains to research and extension efforts. The numerous media headlines and narratives describing the localized impacts of research and technical assistance initiatives have been another powerful approach to telling Agency 229’s story. As the agency looks ahead, however, the growing trend for more data-driven funding justifications challenge Agency 229 to illustrate its economic impacts in different, more comprehensive ways that connect its activities to industry and community development in the commonwealth. This type of evaluation can further help prioritize resources and improve programming. Recently, Virginia’s state legislature released a mandate, directing Agency 229 to develop a strategy for leveraging state investment with industry partnerships that “result in technological and scientific advancements needed to grow the state’s agricultural and natural resource economy.” Moreover, Agency 229 has to consider its role in university-led initiatives such as the Virginia Agriculture and Natural Resources Initiative: Growing our future with public-private partnership and the Global Systems Science Complex and Destination Area. These initiatives offer opportunities to leverage resources and increase the agency’s overall economic impact. This study assesses the current impacts of Agency 229 as they relate to the economy of Commonwealth of Virginia and provides recommendations on how to leverage activities and funding to increase those impacts in the future. We begin by providing an overview of Agency 229 and different approaches to studying the economic impact of university entities. Many approaches exist; however, because impacts of such a large entity can be difficult to quantify or even qualify, not many institutions have endeavored to conduct a large comprehensive study of this type. We approach the assessment of the economic impact of Agency 229 using an industry and community case study lens. By looking at the influence of 229 extension and research innovations have on individual sectors of the economy and specific communities, we can uncover many of the causal mechanisms through which 229 activities affect change and in turn facilitate economic growth and development. We first review five industries that contribute significantly to Virginia’s agricultural economy and assess Agency 229 research and extension efforts as they relate to those sectors. We then take four communities located across the commonwealth as examples to identify social and economic impacts that VCE and Agency 229 research have at the county level.