Higher Education Institutions and Economic Development
While the relationship between the quality of research, training and extension programs and the rate of regional economic growth is well documented, higher education institutions (HEIs) remain underutilized partners in the development process. Not only are HEIs major employment centers and consumers of local goods and services; as anchor institutions they can also drive community revitalization initiatives and help give regions a competitive edge. They provide customized training, technical and management assistance, promote inter-firm cooperation, conduct research and technology transfer activities, and provide support services to business and industry. Two-year technical and community colleges are playing increasingly important roles in industry cluster strategies and workforce development initiatives, while minority-serving institutions (MSIs) are uniquely positioned to contribute to the development objectives of underserved communities. Our work in this area includes documenting best practices, evaluating HEIs engaged in economic development and community revitalization, and building the capacity of labor market intermediaries, community development corporations, nonprofit organizations and other institutions to form and manage partnerships with colleges and universities.
The Role of Two-Year Colleges in Industrial Modernization Client: Regional Technology Strategies, Inc. Designed and implemented case study and survey methodologies to evaluate the capacity of two-year colleges (including Minority Serving Institutions) to provide training and technical degrees in industrial occupations to support industrial modernization. The study also examined programs and practices of two-year colleges that provide workplace training, technical assistance, and business services to SME manufacturers in urban and rural areas. The aim of this study was to examine how to stimulate development in poor and rural areas by elevating the involvement of these institutions. Funded by the Ford Foundation.
Community College Alliance for Sustainability Client: Regional Technology Strategies, Inc. Providing project development and technical assistance to an alliance of community colleges working to develop and expand education and training programs and support economic clusters in several sustainable development areas, including sustainable food systems, alternative energy, and design and construction. Targeting rural areas of the Delta, Appalachia, and other depressed regions.
Community College Partnerships for Economic Opportunity Client: University of Illinois at Chicago Conducted a series of case studies to examine partnerships between community colleges and community-based organizations that have resulted in expanded employment options for low-skilled, low-wage jobseekers. Documented best practices of bridge programs offered by community colleges that prepare low-skilled people to enter technical programs. Funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, this study resulted in increased partnerships with community colleges in the Jobs Initiative.
Evaluation of HBCUs and Economic Development Client: Ford Foundation and Aspen Institute Evaluation of the role of historically black colleges and universities in stimulating urban and rural economic development, providing technical and business assistance, and developing new technologies and worker retraining programs. Examined federal programs supporting HBCUs' economic development efforts, public-private partnerships, institutional operations, and development outcomes. Methodology included in-depth interviews, focus groups, secondary data collection, surveys, case studies, and a cross-case analysis.