Lucas Misera learned early in his career that he was interested in small businesses. That interest suits his current role working on the Fed’s Small Business Credit Survey. Lucas, a policy analyst in the Community Development Department of the Cleveland Fed, looks at issues surrounding credit access and challenges unique to small firms in the US. “I have a master’s degree in public policy, and I wanted to work where I could make an impact,” he said.
What he took from his graduate studies at the University of Michigan included a desire to connect with a broad range of people beyond economists—local and county officials, bankers, and lay audiences. “I felt this was a unique challenge. I want to learn how to make data accessible and useful to a wide community.”
Focusing on the hard work of small business owners
Lucas grew up in a Pittsburgh household with a Midwestern mindset. “There’s a gritty mentality in the region,” he observed. “My parents instilled that same mindset in my brother and me.”
While an undergraduate at Kent State University, Lucas interned at WKSU, a public radio news station serving audiences in Northeast Ohio. He gathered news on small business issues—the opening of a local brewery, a new program from a local business, research about entrepreneurship.
For one assignment he talked to a small candy store owner in Richmond Heights about her unique challenges. “She talked about how hard it is to get credit and the difficulty being taken seriously by bankers as a woman,” Lucas recalled. He was also struck by the entrepreneur’s dedication. “She had six children, and at one point she said, ‘This business is like my seventh kid!’ I could tell she was exhausted yet wired to work.”
Lucas also worked for the university’s undergraduate newspaper, The Kent Stater. His side interest in journalism at the time now informs his current role. “In either data analytics or journalism, we’re trying to tell a story,” he explained. “In creating a radio story about the candy store owner, I pieced together sound bites and anecdotes to share the experience of a dedicated entrepreneur who navigated inimitable challenges.”
Today, whether he is drafting reports or participating in team discussions about which questions to include in a survey, Lucas says the root of telling a good story is deciding which information is most interesting to our readers.
On tap for the future? Combining his interests in data, small business, and storytelling into a project to help the Small Business Credit Survey. “I think a data visualization would be a fun and easy way to pull in stakeholders and those on the fringes of small business in a cool, useful way,” he stated.
“I think storytelling is the foundation of all of our work.”