How To Use The American Dream Data For Community Development

Ed BurghardIf You Build It, He Will Come

Field of Dreams – 1989


Every body wants it. But, without effective strategic planning communities can get in the way of people achieving their American Dream.  Enabling residents to achieve their American Dream is what every community leadership team should establish as its overarching mission.  The tools they have at their disposal include asset creation, infrastructure development and public policy/programs.  Strategic choices in each of these areas can help better enable residents to achieve their American Dream.

But, it starts with understanding what the American Dream really is.  I have written extensively about Xavier University’s research into the American Dream.  And, through their generosity the economic development profession has access to annual performance data on bot the state and major MSA level.  Xavier University has statistically confirmed 35 dimensions that make up the American Dream.  And, performance can be measured for each.

Here are links to the two Reports for 2013 that go into greater detail about the American Dream.

State Ranking Report

MSA Ranking Report

Both of the above Reports will provide you with insight into what the American Dream is and how well residents in (or around) your community feel they are achieving their American Dream.  Take a moment to skim the information.  You won’t be disappointed.


How to use the data for strategic planning is one of the areas I get the most questions about.  The process isn’t really that complicated, but it does take some work and requires a commitment by leadership to execute.  To make it even easier, I have created the following process flowchart to guide you through the steps.  I hope you find it helpful.



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