LEAP was developed by EDR Group for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), as a tool for economic development strategy and target industry development. It was initially implemented as a PC-based system, and later moved to a cloud-based system, available at no cost to ARC ‘s local development districts, and to other economic development agencies via a SAAS (software As A Service) subscription platform. The system was built to: (a) help economic developers assess area strengths and weaknesses, (b) identify critical factors holding back economic growth, (c) identify opportunities for business attraction, and (d) prioritize targets for economic development.
LEAP can also be viewed as a tightly-integrated bundle of tools which provide economic developers with an unprecedented ability to diagnose their local competitive position and design strategies that build on strengths and minimize weaknesses. LEAP won national recognition awards from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER, formerly ACCRA). It was recognized for its technology breakthrough -- developing an expert system that mimiced the decision factors of businesses in location siting decisions by considering the unique requirements of individual industries, identifying local gaps relating to those factors, and selecting industries that had prospects of doing well if various gaps could be eliminated. The system has been used by a wide variety of local and regional economic development agencies for:
- Completing CEDS (Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy) reports
- Prioritizing future plans for improving economic development
- Ongoing evaluation of local economic performance,
- Targeting efforts for business attraction.
The LEAP system is no longer publicly available. The system is now part of EDR-Group’s proprietary economic evaluation services, although many of its elements have been incorporated into newer TREDIS and TRED-Plan tools that are available via cloud servers.