Map Your Community Tool Provides Help to Economic Leaders

October 27, 2014
By Steve Shepelwich, Senior Community Development Advisor


This tool has become a one-stop shop for gathering key demographic and economic information.

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Use the Map Your Community tool to gather key demographic
and economic info about your community.

The Map Your Community tool has become a one-stop shop for gathering key demographic and economic information.

Map Your Community is a user-friendly online tool that contains data compiled from numerous sources and offers users an easy way to create custom maps of communities in the Tenth Federal Reserve District states.

For Mark Wernette, compliance officer at Fort Sill National Bank in Lawton, Okla., Map Your Community has proven its usefulness in a variety of ways.

“This tool has allowed us to better understand our communities from a CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) perspective,” Wernette said. “Even when you think you know your community fairly well, the data might indicate a different story or show you something you did not notice before.”

He pointed out how Map your Community provides a way to review the hidden layers in a community, allowing the user to find places where development is needed.

“For example, you can instantly see what sections of the community have a high percentage of children eligible for free and reduced lunches, so you know what schools might be good to partner with on financial literacy programs for children,” he said. “Or if you see a LMI (low- and moderate-income) tract with a high percentage of individuals age 65 and older, it might be a good area to host financial education classes for senior citizens.”

 Eric Long, research economist with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, considers the convenience and accessibility of the map as the tool’s most significant feature.

“The greatest value of Map Your Community is its ability to bring together large datasets within a visual context,” he said. “It helps our economic development team understand broad trends and provides a quick snapshot of the Oklahoma City metro area.”

Map Your Community has been used by organizations throughout the region in a variety of ways.

“Specifically, it has proven to be an invaluable tool when applying for grants,” Long said. “We have used the tool to provide a general economic overview; assist a regional hospital identify medically underserved areas in our state; identify food deserts in our local market to recruit grocers; and identify population density information for retail recruitment projects.”

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Learn more about your community using the Map Your Community tool.

Map Your Community is powered by PolicyMap, a creation of The Reinvestment Fund in Philadelphia. The tool was first implemented by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in 2008, and over time, has been adopted by other Federal Reserve Banks.

Maggie McCullough, president of PolicyMap, said the program helps meet the needs of the Fed’s community development initiatives.

“Because it’s on a map, it’s a great visualization tool,” McCullough said. “I think prior to something like this, much of the data was distributed via tables. To suddenly have those census tract numbers mean something on a map, and then be able to put value to it on a map, I think is really important.”

As an interactive widget embedded within the Kansas City Fed’s website, the application is able to be updated and kept fresh, allowing for new data sets and program features to easily emerge.

“Get comfortable with the data,” Long said.  “Use it to answer oddball questions and incorporate it in to your normal routine. Be aggressive in spreading the word among community and economic development groups within your region.”

The mapping tool has given individuals, community leaders, businesses owners and government officials a convenient and simple way to understand the community around them and their role within it.

For more information, visit Map Your Community.