EDA Newsletter

Volume 2; Issue 8

In this Issue:

Back to School: EDA University Centers Spur Research and Development

For decades, universities and other institutions of higher learning have been fixtures in the economic development field, promoting sustainable communities and increasing economic opportunity for regions across the nation. Through a U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) sponsored program, a select group of universities have been advancing the economic promise in communities, bridging the gaps toward better employment options, maximizing business development and retention and addressing other support needs.

The EDA University Centers — over 60 institutions of higher learning scattered throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico — aim to provide the necessary resources from the schools directly to the communities, while partnering with other private and public organizations to implement economic change. Funding for the Centers varies by EDA region and is allocated on an annual basis. The University of New Orleans Institute for Economic Development and Real Estate Research and the University of Arkansas Institute for Economic Advancement exemplify how strategic planning initiatives can leverage fundamental resources needed to guide communities toward more balanced and sustainable economic strategies.

Established in 1978, the University of New Orleans (UNO) Institute for Economic Development and Real Estate Research remains one of the longest continually-funded University Centers to date, receiving approximately $100,000 annually from EDA. It has served as a catalyst for job and business growth and retention, housing revitalization, disaster recovery and many other place-based initiatives. UNO's University Center's mission is simply stated: to work cooperatively with local agencies and non-profit organizations to create an environment that encourages economic diversification and growth. The Center has led several successful economic development projects over the years. For example, in partnership with the Louisiana Community Network, the Center facilitates asset mapping in at-risk communities throughout the state, attempting to redefine their physical, intellectual and entrepreneurial capacities.

"The needs among urban and rural populations are fundamentally the same," said Dr. Miestchovich, the Center's Director and an Associate Professor in the College of Business Administration, "but the magnitude and intensity of those needs will vary by community and region. Working cooperatively with economic development practitioners to pinpoint a community's specific needs is essential."

One project at the Real Estate Research Center assesses and monitors the city's real estate market, most specifically in the communities ravaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Through these natural disasters, the supply of housing and commercial properties was markedly diminished. The project utilizes, collects, synthesizes and analyzes data to assist with forecasting the future of housing the city's residents and businesses. The Center continues to help transform Louisiana's communities through place-based economic development that has proven successful in revitalizing their local and regional economies.

Similarly, the University Center at University of Arkansas has made strides toward addressing economic development disparities within the state's communities and regions. Through technological expertise and other university resources, the Center's mission combines applied research and technical assistance, with an emphasis on using Web-based technology as a means to leverage greater information gathering to effectively establish collaborative partnerships among state and local groups with economic development and planning agendas. In operation since 1989, the Center places particular emphasis on community revitalization and capacity building at the local level. Administered by the Center for Regional and Community Development and an outreach component within the College of Business, it focuses on pinpointing the redevelopment goals in 41 counties in the Arkansas- Mississippi Delta. By working to strengthen the capacity of state and local governments and nonprofits, the Center attempts to achieve long-term solutions that will benefit communities in today's transitioning and interconnected economy.

Strategic planning, community organizing, leadership training, surveying and partnerships are some of the Center's community development tools that have produced significant changes for communities throughout the state. For example, the Take Charge! model is a strategic planning method aimed at fostering a forum among businesses, educational institutions, local governments and agricultural sectors. Through this training, representatives from these arenas work toward achieving a more sustainable future by devising an economic development plan that helps local leaders and their workforces capitalize on the subsequent community transition. Other priority areas of the Center include: assessing the importance of collaboration; the benefits of working collectively with state and federal agencies; and developing ongoing community leadership, serving the needs of distressed areas within Arkansas.

The following lessons-learned will encourage economic development practitioners to take advantage of EDA University Centers in their regions:

  • Partnering with economic development practitioners to conduct community-needs assessments will better inform the type and degree of resources and intervention needed from EDA University Centers;
  • Though differing in magnitude and intensity, urban and rural communities face similar economic development challenges, often requiring intervention and support from University Centers and private sector partnerships; and
  • Collaborating with other public and private resources enhances quality of programs and services for communities.

EDA University Centers continue to help strengthen areas nationwide through outreach services, programs and technical assistance.

For more information visit:

University of Wisconsin-Stout (UW-Stout): Aiding small and mid-sized businesses through hands-on business support

The University of Wisconsin-Stout (UW-Stout) University Center provides assistance to small and mid-sized businesses in Wisconsin, Minnesota as well as international companies. The Center, in operation since 2006, has aided over 1,100 individuals and 140 companies and provides hands-on support to entrepreneurs who are looking to effectively and efficiently grow and sustain a profitable business.

Partially funded by the EDA, the Center links businesses with specialists in six core areas: new business development, network and information technology, organizational development, project management, quality and supply chain management. Some of the services offered by UW-Stout Center include:

  • creating more effective manufacturing, service and business processes;
  • increasing efficiency and expanding market opportunities;
  • increasing the use of technology;
  • improving internal and external business relationships; and
  • developing growth strategies.

Additionally, the UW-Stout University Center provides professional consulting services, which often incorporates applied research through faculty-led graduate student projects.

The Center works in conjunction with 12 other technical assistance outreach programs within the Stout Technology Transfer Institute (STTI). STTI is designed to promote technology transfer between UW-Stout and industry. STTI draws on Stout's faculty, staff and student's expertise and its well-equipped and diversified laboratories. These resources are made accessible to industry through STTI's technical centers.

One recent successful project of the Center and STTI is the transition of the Manufacturing Workforce Development Initiative into the Midwest Digital Fabrication Lab Project. The Initiative provided support for entrepreneurs and startup companies to develop and grow manufacturing companies that are competitive in regional, national and international markets.

The Initiative facilitated entry into incubator environments for selected clients and it advanced the business processes and strategic direction of numerous entrepreneurs and companies. During the final quarters of the project, STTI was successful in securing ongoing support for the project's services through the formation of the Midwest Digital Fabrication Laboratory (Fab Lab) Partnership (MDFLP). This Fab Lab consortium, comprised of UW-Stout and academic institutions in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ohio, is an extension of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for Bits and Atoms.

In 2008, the MDFLP was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) competencies for secondary and postsecondary students and make the innovation, invention and entrepreneurship resources of UW-Stout more accessible to the larger community. Sustaining funds are also provided through ongoing cost recovery fees for service activities.

The success of MDFLP is just one example of how University Centers can spawn innovation, investment and entrepreneurial activity in communities across the United States.

For more information visit:

University of Utah Tech Commercialization

Since enactment of the Bayh-Dole Act (which gave U.S. universities, small businesses and nonprofits intellectual property control of their inventions) in 1980, the business of university technology transfer and commercialization has undergone massive change and improvements. University technology transfer offices and personnel have become much more adept and effective at commercializing products, services and technologies created by university researchers.

While the overall performance of the university technology transfer community has greatly improved, the relative ranking of universities has remained relatively static. The top performing universities, such as MIT, Stanford and the University of California system have long excelled at the business of technology commercialization. Other universities have seen improved performance, but few have broken into the top ranks according to measures of company spin-offs, revenue and other metrics of success.

The University of Utah system is one exception to this pattern. Over the past several years, it has emerged as a major success story in the world of university technology commercialization. In the last two annual surveys of the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), a nonprofit association dedicated to improving academic technology transfer worldwide, Utah has emerged as the second best performer (behind MIT) in terms of creating new companies based on university research and development (R&D).

In the latest survey (2007), the University of Utah helped spin off 18 different companies. MIT spun off 24 firms that year, with a research budget roughly four times larger than Utah's. Since setting up a University Technology Development Office in 2005, the University of Utah has spun off 60 companies; almost all of these firms are still located in the state.

What explains this impressive recent performance? A recent research paper takes a closer look,[1] and finds several factors at work. A primary cause results from conscious leadership efforts — among university officials and state economic development leaders — to "change the culture." They made an explicit commitment to act like entrepreneurs. This expressed in itself a willingness to take risks, experiment with new ideas and approaches and to build new partnerships with local entrepreneurs and entrepreneur support organizations.

This commitment went beyond rhetoric as a host of new programs and initiatives were introduced to coincide with the new focus. The University expanded its Lassonde Entrepreneur Center, which is now the largest such University Center in the United States. In addition to support classroom training, the Lassonde Center also operates a student venture fund and several prominent business plan competitions. The University has also built closer ties with USTAR (the Utah Science, Technology and Research Initiative), the state's leading advocate for technology-based economic development. Instead of simply operating a technology transfer office that "pushes" technology into the community, the University views itself as a core part of the statewide entrepreneurial ecosystem. This shift in mindset has not only generated benefits for the university; it has also helped to turn Utah into one of the strongest states in the nation in terms of creating home-grown, high-growth entrepreneurial ventures.

For more information visit:

[1] Norris F. Krueger, Brian A. Cummings and Steven P. Nichols, "From Bureaucratic Tech Transfer to Entrepreneurial Tech Commercialization," Draft Working Paper, October 23, 2008. Available at: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1288942

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APA's Tools-of-the-Trade Part Seven: Strategy 6-Land Supply

Without an accurate land inventory and understanding of market forces, regions and communities cannot realize the full opportunity of potential development sites. With a focus on innovative technologies and public policy strategies, APA's Tools-of-the-Trade (Website) explores the value of modern geographic information systems (GIS), brownfield redevelopment principles and legal land transfers to private developers through "land assembly" initiatives.

Reviewers Needed: NTIA Broadband Technology Opportunities Program

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) are seeking experienced professionals to help review applications to the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). NTIA is looking for reviewers with significant expertise and experience in at least one of the following areas:

  1. the design, funding, construction and operation of broadband networks or public computer centers;
  2. broadband-related outreach, training or education; or
  3. innovative programs to increase the demand for broadband services.

NTIA is seeking reviewers from diverse backgrounds and areas of the country. Please review the Application and Conflict of Interest information at Website.

Federal Funding Opportunity Notice Available for EDA's American Recovery Program

EDA is soliciting applications under its $150 million American Recovery Act Program, to create jobs and boost development in parts of the country hit hard by the recession. The deadline for receipt of applications under the Recovery Act Program is June 30, 2010. All other information and requirements for the EDA American Recovery Act Program may be found in the March 10, 2009, Federal Register notice (74 FR 10232) and the companion federal funding opportunity announcement on EDA's Recovery Website.


August 29-September 1, 2009

NADO's 2009 Annual Training Conference, Chicago, IL

September 14-16, 2009

National Association of Seed and Venture Funds (NASVF) 16th Annual Convention, Oklahoma City, OK [Website]

September 14-17, 2009

America's Small Business Development Center (ASBDC) Annual Conference, Orlando, FL [Website]

October 4-7, 2009

IEDC 2009 Annual Conference, Renewable Communities, Reno, NV [Website]

October 4-6, 2009

APA's Federal Policy and Program Briefing, Washington, DC [Website]

October 11-13, 2009

University Economic Development Association Annual Summit, San Antonio, TX [Website]

November 16-22, 2009

Global Entrepreneurship Week [Website]