The Southern Regional Science Association (SRSA) held their 2016 Conference from March 31 - April 2, 2016 in Washington, DC.
The SRSA is an association for the advancement of regional analysis and related spatial and areal studies.  It operates as an objective, scientific organization without political, social, financial, or nationalistic bias.  Its main objectives are to foster the exchange of ideas and to promote studies focusing on regional topics and issues and utilizing tools, methods, and theoretical frameworks specifically designed for regional analysis as well as concepts, procedures, and analytical techniques of the various social and other sciences.  
Dr. Greg Alward, Dr. Stephen Cooke, and Dr. Phil Watson of the Alward Institute of Collaborative Science presented the following SRSA accepted papers: 
  • Alward Institute Community Intelligence Research Laboratory
  • Identifying Opportunities for Growth in Michigan’s Forest-Product Sectors
  • A Method for Evaluating the Economic Contribution of a Local Food System
 Alward Institute Community Intelligence Research Laboratory
Corresponding Authors: Dr. Gregory Alward & David Kay
The Alward Institute for Collaborative Science is proud to announce the creation of its Community Intelligence Research Laboratory.  This laboratory includes Tapestry, a data warehouse of time-series social accounts built from historical control totals (1990-2013) that include an accounting of all U.S. counties.  The Laboratory includes four dashboards of software applications to explore the contents of the Tapestry data warehouse and apply best practice economic analysis techniques.  Dashboards consist of procedures and applications oriented around four broad topics: (1) Economic Structures; (2) Economic Connections; (3) Analysis Models; and (4) Satellite Accounts.
Producers of input-output models typically provide clients with access to a software tool that utilizes regional social accounts to build a Leontief multiplier model.  To-date this type of product has provided analysts with a convenient method for calculating marginal economic impacts.  However, the Leontief multiplier model is just one of many regional economic models that can be derived from the same underlying social accounts.
For example, the economic-base contribution model derived by Watson, et al. (2015) uses regional social accounts to simultaneously derive both gross and base measures of output for all industries in a region.  These two measures vary by industry but sum to the regional output total observed in the underlying social accounts.  When used as a comparative statistic, these two measures provide additional insight into the role an industry plays in supporting economic activity through export expansion or import-substitution.  In addition, this method also provides a way to rigorously benchmark individual impact studies in order to guard against the possibility of double-counting or over-estimation.
Furthermore, social accounting data can also be used to model the comparative advantage, economic diversity, trade behavior, supply-chain network, and labor force endowment of any number of regions throughout the United States.  Although these models are all derived from the same social accounts, they are designed to provide comparative insight into the structure and function of a regional economy.  Typically, this type of insight is beyond the scope of a single-region, economic impact model.
The purpose of this paper is to review the use and function of a variety of regional economic models derived from the time-series of multi-regional social accounts housed within the Alward Institute’s Community Intelligence Research Laboratory.  Currently, the Alward Institute is partnering with academic researchers to provide access to these regional social accounts and their derivative economic models
Identifying Opportunities for Growth in Michigan’s Forest-Product Sectors
Corresponding Author:  Stephen Cooke
 In 2013, Michigan’s Governor Snyder proposed the goal of increasing the contribution of forest products to the state’s economy.  The general category of forest products includes logging, primary and secondary wood and paper production and wood furniture.  Out of the 535 sectors available in the 2013 IMPLAN data system, forest-product sectors make up twenty-seven.  Which forest-product sectors have the greatest growth potential?  Which ones offer the best hope of responding positively to state government’s efforts to increase exports, value added, employment and output and also works best with the non-forest-product sectors in the state?
Three analytical models are used to make this determination.  Each model uses coefficients derived from IMPLAN social accounting data—annual data from 2007 to 2013 available for each state with more than 400 sectors of detail.  The first model generates measures of gross and base value added for Michigan, which identifies the primarily exporting and import substituting sectors. Then the changing shares of value added by sector in the state are used in a SWOT analysis (strength, weakness, opportunity and threats) to determine changing comparative advantage of each of Michigan’s forest-product sectors compared to the baselines of shares for All States and for 2007.  Finally, what are the potential bottleneck sectors in the supply chains for forest products?  From the induced effect multipliers, structural paths are revealed as a network of directed movements of payments from forest sector production to household consumption.  The relative importance of the nodes within these networks is measured as the size of betweenness centrality.
Ten of twenty-seven forest-product sectors are identified as playing key roles in the growth of this broadly defined sector in Michigan.  Three sectors—office furniture and institutional furniture and paperboard container manufacturing offer an opportunity to expand exports.  In the case of containers, these “exports” include increased sales to non-forest-product sectors in the state.  Four sectors—paper, paperboard, shelving and veneer manufacturing—can expand both exports and sales to other important forest-product sectors in the state.  Three sectors—logging, sawmills and pallets—can increase sales primarily to other important forest-product sectors in the state.  In fact, the lack of increased sales by these important “betweenness centrality” sectors would pose a barrier to the growth in the other important forest product exporting sectors.  Hence, we argue that programs and policies should support these industries as needed and where appropriate to encourage import substitution for low value-added forest-product sectors and export expansion for the high value-added ones.
A Method for Evaluating the Economic Contribution of a Local Food System
Corresponding Authors:  Dr. Philp Watson & Alward Institute
There has been increasing interest on the part of policy makers and researchers in quantifying the extent to which a region’s local food system interacts with and contributes to a region’s economy.  However, given the endogenous nature of local food demands, modeling the contributions that local food systems have on a regional economy have been problematic.  We present a combined hypothetical extraction and import substitution social accounting matrix model which provides a theoretically consistent and computationally feasible method for evaluating the regional economic contribution of a local food system.  Furthermore the method we present is insensitive to definitional disagreements as to what specific transactions should be included in a “local food system.”  Lastly, using a broad definition of what constitutes the “local food” system, we apply this model to the state of Wisconsin and compare the economic contribution of the local food system with the economic contribution of the export food system.