Office of Social and Economic Trend Analysis is now the Regional Capacity Analysis Program

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University's Office of Social and Economic Trend Analysis is now the Regional Capacity Analysis Program (ReCAP). It has a new Web site that was launched over the holiday break at

The name change reflects a more accurate description of the program, says Liesl Eathington, an ISU economist and director of ReCAP.

"We wanted to emphasize the importance of regional forces in community and economic development," Eathington said. "Also, instead of focusing on past trends, we want to help communities take a forward-looking approach to dealing with change by assessing their capacity for meeting future challenges. We provide data and analysis to help communities identify their strengths and weaknesses. We also provide new analysis that can be used for anything from strategic planning to regional marketing programs."

In partnership with ISU Extension, ReCAP provides programming for community and economic development initiatives and local needs assessments. Its Web site contains a variety of local economic, demographic, and other social indicators. The site also contains in-depth local profiles, industry analysis and other tools for community analysis.

ReCAP offers customized research services, including economic and fiscal impact analysis, targeted industrial assessments, labor force profiles and retail trade area profiles.

"The new name goes along with the theme of helping regions identify what stands out -- what they've got in terms of demographic structure, industrial structure, and occupational strengths," Eathington said. "We then use that information to help them identify new opportunities, and eliminate things that aren't necessarily a good fit."

Eathington says that ReCAP is designed to work more closely with ISU Extension's community offices to identify and assist in some of their region's most pressing economic needs. Community leaders can work through Extension's Community and Economic Development Program Builder (See Web site) -- a web-based marketplace where leaders can review and make selections from a variety of technical assistance, consulting and educational programs that will improve the quality of life in their communities -- to schedule potential projects.

ReCAP also conducts general educational seminars for groups of various sizes. Popular topics include regional economic trends, demographic profiles, retail trade sector change, and labor force issues.

"SETA provided us with a strong base for understanding community information needs," Eathington said. "Now we want to expand the outreach component of our activities. When we brought Dave Swenson (ISU associate scientist in economics) into the mix, we really boosted our ability in analysis, outreach and community education. So, there are more dimensions now to what we can offer."

In addition to Eathington and Swenson, economist Meghan O'Brien -- an ISU Extension program specialist -- joined the ReCAP team in December. She is the author of a report providing a five-year threshold analysis (2000-2005) of Iowa retail and service business, which will be released on the ReCAP Web site next week.