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Super-regional economic development dialogue: The university role October 30, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, Events, Innovation, Research.

My favorite economic development blogs are picking up on the Brookings Institution’s concept of a Great Lakes compact. (Thanks to Don Iannone at Economic Development Futures Journal for a link to the Brookings Insitution’s report.)

And that’s nothing in comparison to the mass media coverage of the report.

But perhaps the most interesting extrapolation of this report comes from Bill Testa of the Chicago Federal Reserve, who explores the possibilities of university involvement in such an super-regional alliance:

This initial Brookings paper points out several avenues for the region to pursue, with “Innovative Infrastructure” being the most prominent. With a 33% share of national population, the region is said to generate 32% of the nation’s patents, perform 29% of its R&D, and graduate 36% of the nation’s scientists and engineers. The report calls on public and private research facilities in the Great Lakes to work together to take advantage of these and other “innovation” opportunities.
Further, perhaps because they are mostly fixed in location, highly prominent in stature, and somewhat amenable to public policy, the region’s universities are receiving a lot of attention as potential engines of regional growth. On the plus side, by one ranking, 19 of the world’s top 100 universities are located in Great Lakes states and Ontario, Canada. On the negative side, graduates of the region’s universities are increasingly gravitating to the East and West coasts and other out-of-region locales.

Testa runs through the permutations a little further and then references the Cleveland Fed’s upcoming November 16-17 conference on “Universities, Innovation & Economic Growth.” This looks to be a very strong event.

It’s encouraging to see this type of dialogue taking place on what could be considered a controversial topic. Is it just another policy “flavor of the month” or something more permanent? Only time will tell. In the meantime, we can enjoy a spirited public discussion.



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