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A world-class challenge

This issue of IndustryWeek highlights the concept of community -- specifically, how the interplay between a regions manufacturing base and its social and political infrastructure determines that communitys economic fortunes. Not surprisingly, perhaps, that same understanding of community -- i.e., of a group of people working together to achieve something larger than themselves -- is equally applicable to the team that assembled this years World-Class Communities report.

Last years inaugural World-Class Communities report ranked every metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in the U.S. according to its manufacturing prowess. Yet even before that issue had gone to press we were already planning to make this years World-Class Communities report a truly global project -- one that evaluated regional manufacturing strength around the world.

What we soon learned, however, was that global expansion of such a data-intensive project was an even bigger challenge than we had imagined.

Together with our respected research partner, the Urban Center of the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, we combed through 370-odd data points before settling on the parameters that allowed us to rank all 315 MSAs in the U.S. While analyzing the U.S. data was difficult, at least there were data. Most of the rest of the world is not divided for data-gathering purposes into economic regions; instead data are usually reported on a state, provincial, prefecture, or countrywide basis. This meant two things for our global expansion:

* First, we had to accept that there would be no easily comparable data for communities in different parts of the world. Rather, we would have to rely on an enormous amount of old-fashioned reporting from IW correspondents worldwide.

* Second, it meant that we would have to take on the daunting task of drafting the worlds first atlas of manufacturing.

These are no easy tasks, but a team of IW staffers and partners labored day and night to make the impossible a reality:

From Cleveland State University: Edward W. Hill, Professor; Larry C. Ledebur, Director, the Urban Center; Research Associates John Brennan, Mark Hoffman, and Charles Post; Research Assistant Abdelaziz El Jaouhari; and GIS Specialist Brian McCarthy.

From Homenik Communications: Della Homenik.

From IW: Senior Editor and Team Leader John McClenahen; Editor-at-Large Richard Osborne; Managing Editor Patricia Panchak; Editorial Research Director David Drickhamer; Senior Editors William H. Miller, Weld Royal, and Michael A. Verespej; Correspondents Tanya Clark, John Parry, Peter Fletcher, Brendan Murphy, Edvaldo Pereira Lima, and Eapen Thomas; Presentation Editor John Carson; Art Director Nick Dankovich; Illustrator Margaret Bangs, Copy Editors Vivian Pospisil and Catherine Radwan; Production Assistant Darlene Smith-Powell; and Editorial Intern Traci Purdum.

Let us know what you think.

Send e-mail messages to John Brandt at [email protected]

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