Who we are…

Applied Economics has a highly experienced staff specializing in Economics and Urban Planning.  We also leverage our expertise by joining forces with experts in other related fields in order to provide the best-qualified teams for different types of projects.

Sarah Murley

Sarah is an economist with over 25 years of experience in regional economic analysis, particularly in economic development and public finance.  Ms. Murley is an experienced economic modeler, researcher and analyst.  She has performed engagements for a wide range of public sector clients including city and county governments as well as economic development corporations, and utilities across the country.

Ms. Murley has applied her computer-based modeling experience to construct economic and fiscal impact models for cities, regional economic development organizations and utilities.  These economic and fiscal impact models have been applied to a range of problems from evaluation of new and expanding companies, incentive evaluation, analysis of proposed developments and land use alternatives for future development.  Ms. Murley has also conducted numerous studies of business attraction targets, existing businesses and other types of development projects to evaluate their economic impacts as well as the potential revenue impacts for the host community and region. 

Ms. Murley is also frequently called upon to provide third party analysis to support incentives for new and expanding companies.  She performs economic and revenue impact analysis as well as tax and incentive comparisons to quantify the value that the company would bring to the city or state, and specifically to quantify the new tax revenues that would be generated relative to the value of the incentive being offered.  This information allows the state and local government entities to understand their return on investment over a multi-year period.  These types of analysis are also used to satisfy state statutory requirements regarding incentives.

Sarah earned her Master’s degree in economics from Arizona State University.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Mathematics from Pomona College in Claremont, California.  Her academic background, as well as her practical experience, provides her with excellent quantitative and analytical abilities.  Ms. Murley began her career in economic consulting with Mountain West Research.  She went on to work for Coopers & Lybrand and Economic Strategies Group, both in Phoenix, Arizona.  She co-founded Applied Economics in 1995.

Rick Brammer

Rick has over 30 years of experience applying economics and information technology to a wide variety of public policy and planning related issues. His past work experience includes socioeconomic estimates and projections, real estate market studies and economic and fiscal impact assessments in Arizona and the Southwest.  Mr. Brammer specializes in performing small-area socioeconomic, housing, demographic, and enrollment analyses, having served the Maricopa Association of Governments, Central Arizona Association of Governments and some 50 Arizona school districts.   Other public sector clients have included state and local government agencies, economic development corporations and transportation planning agencies.

In addition to his socioeconomic research and modeling, Rick has also created databases, analysis tools and marketing collateral materials in support of economic development activities. This has included marketing materials, economic and fiscal impact models and interactive operating cost comparison systems. He has extensive experience in utilizing study results in working group situations, as well as making formal public presentations.

Mr. Brammer’s degree is in computer science and economics from the University of Oregon.  He began his professional career with Mountain West Research, a regional economic and real estate consulting company.  Mr. Brammer continued to work as an economic consultant with Coopers & Lybrand, which acquired Mountain West, and later with Economic Strategies Group.  He co-founded Applied Economics in 1995.

Don Graves 

Don Graves is a Senior Associate with Applied Economics and has over 30 years of experience in real estate research, analysis and data management.  His specialty is the compilation and organization of real estate data, analysis of trends and underlying issues, and detailed projections of future residential growth. 

He has performed development analyses for numerous school districts in Arizona.  He has also developed database software to manage real estate data and integrate it with a GIS mapping system to perform spatial analysis and provide visual displays of land use and development trends.  Don has been active in the areas of economic and real estate research since the mid-1980’s and has an extensive familiarity with historical real estate development trends and issues in Arizona.

In addition to performing real estate analysis, Don has also designed specialized databases for other public and private sector clients, including the Maricopa Association of Governments and the Arizona Real Estate Center at Arizona State University.  He has also worked on a variety of studies dealing with demographics, economics, and transportation.

 Don has an Associate of Arts degree from Spoon River College in Canton, Illinois and continued his education at Western Illinois University with coursework in sociology, business, and demographics.  He worked primarily in social services in Illinois before moving to Arizona in 1983.  Don began his career in real estate research at Mountain West Research where he was the editor of the Phoenix Zoning Digest as well as performing customized data research.

Christina Miller 

Christina conducts primary and secondary research on a variety of economic development-related projects involving the organization and analysis of data, spreadsheet and database management, conducting interviews and document preparation. She routinely coordinates large scale data collection efforts to facilitate comparisons of business climate and operating cost factors for metropolitan areas on behalf of economic development organizations nationwide. This research includes gathering utility and tax rates, occupational wage data, labor market, demographic and educational statistics, transportation information, and other quantitative economic and business climate data.


Christina holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and an M.B.A. in Finance from Regis University in Denver.  Her previous work experience includes positions in account management and finance with MCI Telecommunications and Shell Oil Company.