What Format Should You Use?

Again, format is largely a function of what your sponsors expect from you. If you receive funding from your state, for example, and the state requires a certain form, that’s what you’ll use. But if it’s carte blanche, the choices are many.

Wiggins uses state-provided forms to report to the state, and prepares his own annual report for the county. “We put [the same information] in our general incubator PowerPoint presentation, so it’s in any presentation I do. I also print some collateral based on it to keep in the lobby for visitors,” he says.

Some managers prefer to keep it short and simple, preparing a one-page economic impact overview that illustrates several key points. In Marina, California, for example, Susan Barich’s overview of the Marina Technology Cluster’s impact is a one-page document that features a chart showing eight impact-related data points, followed by short paragraphs explaining what the data mean.

Other managers prefer to prepare a formal report. For example, if you conduct an IMPLAN assessment of your program’s impact, a thorough report likely will be part of the project. Mark Long’s report on the impact of the Indiana University Emerging Technologies Center, based on an IMPLAN assessment, includes an executive summary and a section detailing the incubator’s impact, along with other information on university technology commercialization and on the health care and life sciences industries.

Even if you prepare a lengthy report, some stakeholders don’t want to sift through all the accompanying information in order to get to the impact data. Be sure to ask if they’d like to receive the full version or a shorter fact sheet.