Interview with Jeff Chapman

Jeff Chapman

by Kyle Huisman 

Jeff Chapman is the director of Pew’s state fiscal health initiative, which provides states with technical assistance to help them create effective and responsible economic policies. Chapman previously served as Research Director for the Washington State Budget & Policy Center and sat on the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors in Washington. Prior to this he worked as an economist for the Economic Policy Institute 

How do you see parts of your work intersecting with the Upjohn Institute’s “Promise: Investing in Community”?  

Over the past 10 years, The Pew Charitable Trusts has worked with Upjohn to help states evaluate their largest economic development investments: tax incentives. As states have improved their evaluations, they have used the new evidence to reform programs, including those that are targeted at distressed places. In addition, policymakers are now actively looking for innovative alternatives to programs that have proven ineffective, and that’s a gap that I think Upjohn’s research is well poised to fill. 

Tell us about something interesting you are working on at Pew.  

One thing we are working on right now is developing a tax incentive evaluation toolkit for policymakers. We are aiming to bring together all our research over the last 10 years into one place, creating a resource that will make the process of starting, executing, and improving evaluation processes much easier for states.  

What can researchers do to better communicate findings to policymakers to promote evidence-based policymaking?  

Based on our experience working with policymakers, most state and local leaders are interested in evidence-based policymaking, but they have several constraints on their time and attention that make it difficult to pursue even the most proven approaches. At Pew we provide in-depth technical assistance to help states adopt innovative approaches. Even the best research can fail to have an impact without that work.  

What interest does Pew take in place-based issues?  

The founders of The Pew Charitable Trusts aimed to create an institution committed to serving the public interest through the power of knowledge—and to this day, we believe that research can help solve today’s most challenging problems. This is why Pew’s work is firmly rooted in research-driven problem-solving in areas, including place-based economic development.  

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