By now we all know that talent, innovation and quality place-based strategies are at the heart of the fourth economy. Earlier this year, the Fourth Economy team was hired by the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) to help the organization advance its strategic mission – a mission to leverage higher education and enhance our national competitiveness.
Our first year efforts culminated in one of the largest Annual Summit’s since the organization’s founding. More than 175 delegates convened in Chattanooga, Tennessee in October for the three-day conference.
“There has never been a more important time for this delegation to convene than now,” said William Michalerya, UEDA President. “In the next few weeks, there will be a national election and regardless of the outcome, there will be a renewed discussion and interest in how best our Country should leverage its innovation assets and make key investments in those resources,” Michalerya added.
UEDA is the cornerstone membership organization representing higher education, private sector and community economic development stakeholders. The annual gathering brought together university Presidents, economic development officials, federal agencies, private sector firms and innovation intermediaries to take part in discussions on the future role and impact universities have on our nation’s competitiveness and economic development.
“I think everyone can agree that almost all of our country’s major technological advances and innovation has either resulted directly from or in partnership with, higher education,” said Chuck Shoopman, UEDA Summit Chairperson and Assistant Vice President for the University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service.
“We must continue to seek out the most effective ways to leverage our research assets and human capital within our America’s institutions of higher learning to remain competitive on a global scale,” Shoopman added.
Among the plenary presentations was a panel discussion of university presidents from the University of Tennessee, West Virginia University and Texas A&M University – Central Texas making the case for university driven economic development.
“From energy to advance materials and manufacturing, the University of Tennessee has developed critical partnerships with industry and federal agencies to advance not only Tennessee’s economy, but the nation as a whole,” said Dr. Joe DiPietro, President of University of Tennessee and the Summit’s host sponsor.
“Our nation’s universities impact the three key pillars for modern economic growth, research, education and community outreach,” said Dr. Jim Clements, President of West Virginia University. “UEDA members must continue to be at the center of the national discussion on our nation’s economic competitiveness,” Clements added.
Dr. Marc Nigliazzo, President of the Texas A&M – Central Texas which is a newly formed branch university of the Texas A&M system, highlighted the critical connections needed between university and its neighboring community. “The old model of top down economic development is not longer valid,” noted Nigliazzo. “Universities must work to understand the needs of the communities in which they operate, and structure programs and a mission of outreach that meets that demand.
The keynote address was delivered by Chris Mustain, Vice President for the Council on Competitiveness, who highlighted the nation’s innovation agenda. “While our country faces major geo-political and financial challenges, it will be our innovation resources and highly valued human capital that continues to drive our competitive edge,” Mustain told the delegation. “Our colleges and universities in partnership with the private sector represent the foundation for our Country’s continued and future success,” Mustain added.
In addition to the policy discussion and best practice sharing, UEDA delegates conducted it’s annual business meeting that highlighted its accomplishments and goals for 2013. “This past year has been an exciting one for UEDA,” noted Michalerya. “The Board and committee members have doubled down to ensure this organization is at the table to help determine the best course for our country’s continued competitiveness.”
Among the accomplishments highlighted were a doubling of the new member rate from the previous year, new partnership agreements in place with the International Economic Development Council, a growing national presence and alliances with organizations such at the Council on Competitiveness and new committees intended to expand UEDA’s role as a clearinghouse for university driven economic development strategies.
“We will continue to work diligently with our staff and board to keep our membership engaged and mobilized as we participate in the development of our national innovation agenda,” added Michaleyera. “There is not doubt that higher education will be at the forefront of that discussion.”
The 2013 Board slate was also announced to include the following new members: Christina Brown, Director of Apollidon Learning; Rick Wolk, Assistant Professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship, University of Alaska; Melvin Ray, Associate Vice President for Economic Development of Mississippi State University; Gene Merrell, Associate Vice President for Economic Development, University of Idaho; and Mike Dozier, Executive Director, Office of Community and Economic Development, California State University – Fresno.
The 2013 UEDA Summit will be held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, October 27 to 30.
The University Economic Development Association (UEDA) is managed by Fourth Economy Consulting who provides administrative, strategic planning, and policy development services. Established in 1976, UEDA is the cornerstone membership organization representing higher education, private sector and community economic development stakeholders. The Association works to expand economic opportunity in our communities by leveraging research, community resources, campus planning, talent development, and technology commercialization.