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Case Center for Regional Economic Issues

Building communities for tomorrows economy

Building communities for tomorrows economy

The Case Center for Regional Economic Issues (REI) is a think and do tank based at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. Our center is designed to accelerate learning in regional economic development. Founded in 1984, REI has established a national reputation for thought leadership in regional economic development. We focus our activities in four areas: Conducting advanced and applied research in regional economic development; Designing analytic frameworks and practical tools for civic leaders and economic development practitioners; Building collaborative networks to accelerate regional economic development; and Conducting training and public education initiatives in regional economic development

"Education is not primarily about the transmission of information, but about the transformation of the learner. Our mission is to have a transformational impact on all who teach, learn, discover and work here, so they are prepared and engaged to serve humanity. Edward M. Hundert, M.D. President, Case Western Reserve University

Seeing the opportunities in global competition

We are all competing in a dynamic global economy. New technologies emerge continuously. Capital now ies around the globe at the click of a mouse. Collapsing trade barriers open new markets. Low-cost labor undercuts the competitive position of established businesses. The Internet, our rst interactive mass medium, opens the door to entirely new organizational forms that cross traditional market boundaries. All of these factors create new competition but also great opportunity. In a world of global rivalry, success depends on combining knowledge, skills and creativity in new ways. Traditional approaches economic development -- which depended on assembling low-cost land, labor and capital -- are no longer adequate. At REI, we have developed a new approach to help communities and regions build a prosperous future. Called Open Source Economic Development, our approach emphasizes the need to build new collaborations in the civic space where economic development takes place. Rebuilding our civic spaces Economic development involves designing and implementing investment partnerships. These partnerships form in the civic space that exists outside the four walls of any one organization. In many communities, we have ignored these civic spaces; now, we must rebuild them. This step requires us to build new civic habits of dialogue and inclusion. These habits are critical to the formation of the networks we need to compete in a global age. Regions that work consciously to build these networks of mutual respect and collaboration will be better off. In a complex world of continuously shifting trends, they will learn faster. They will spot opportunities faster. And they will act faster. Moving from strategic planning to strategic learning Global economies are continuously shifting, and successful regions must continually adapt. Effective economic development entails strategic learning, not strategic planning. Far too often, strategic planning in economic development has become an empty ritual. In contrast, strategic learning engages the community in a continuous process of uncovering insights into new opportunities and translating these insights into strategic activities and transformational initiatives.

Open source economic development

How does a community or region focus its strategic learning? REI has developed a roadmap, Open Source Economic Development, that helps civic leaders keep focused on what matters. Civic need balanced strategies that encourage new conversations, networks, and investments in the following areas: Building brainpower In todays economy, brainpower provides the only basis for sustainable competitive advantage. This fact presents us with some clear imperatives. Advances in brain science tell us that in a knowledge economy, workforce development begins with a pregnant mother. Every child needs sound pre-school education and should be able to read an comprehend well by the third grade. Further, we know that in a knowledge economy high school is no longer a ticket to the middle class. Further, dropping out of school creates a lifetime economic disability. Connecting innovation and entrepreneurship networks These networks convert brainpower into wealth through new products, new services, new markets. Innovation provides the process and entrepreneurship provides the skills to translate ideas into prosperity. Building quality, connected places Smart people can live anywhere. They will choose to live in regions and neighborhoods that respect sound principles of sustainable physical development. Quality important, quality places have thick networks of connection to other people, places and networks. Promoting an effective brand Open Source Economic Development provides an inclusive and understandable model of the partnerships needed to build a competitive economy. Strengthening civic habits of dialogue and inclusion In a globally connected economy, no one can afford to go it alone. Prosperous regions will develop civic habits of thinking and acting together. Building collaboration and trust translates into clear competitive advantages: The regions that collaborate will spot opportunities and move more quickly than regions that do not. A regions brand represents the stories we tell about ourselves to ourselves and to other people. These stories create a unique experience, a special identity, a common understanding os shared strengths, a shared view of future opportunities.

The new role of colleges and universities

In the past, most colleges and universities played a passive role in regional economic development. Now, however, that role is changing. Dynamic regional economies have open, thick networks of collaboration with colleges and universities as nodes in these networks. Collages and universities play different roles in transforming regional economies. Most clearly, our colleges and universities provide the brainpower that drive our economies forward. In addition, entrepreneurial campuses are demonstrating new ways of translating brainpower into wealth. Technology transfer initiatives, incubators, entrepreneurial training and mentoring...all of these activities and more are designed to accelerate innovation and create new reservoirs of wealth in a region. REI sees, however, that the role of colleges and universities extends even further. In an economy based on knowledge, wealth creation comes from networks. These networks thrive in regions where the civic space encourages collaboration and trust. Colleges and universities now play a vital role as stewards of 5 these civic spaces. We create these spaces when we invite citizens to our campus to explore new opportunities for our region. We protect these spaces when we encourage new patterns of civic behavior that combine public participation with effective leadership direction. At REI we are pioneering new tools to build, expand and maintain our civic spaces. We are leading the development of collaborations among colleges and universities in economic development.

REI Tuesdays Each Tuesday, REI holds a civic forum to explore an issue of importance to the economic future of Northeast Ohio. Through these sessions, REI provides the civic space for people to identify emerging networks, gain insight into the strengths of the region, and dene specic next steps to build our networks. Some of the topics from recent Tuesdays include The Economics of Early Childhood Development and Economic Development Cognitive Science, Creativity and Economic Development The Emergence of the Creative Industries in Northeast Ohio Building Clean Energy Networks Advanced Logistics and Sustainable Transportation in Northeast Ohio The Universities Collaborative Case has joined with our colleagues at Cleveland State University, Kent State University, Lorain County Community College, The University of Akron, and Youngstown State University to form the Universities Collaborative in Northeast Ohio. Founded in January, 2004, the Collaborative brings together the economic development assets of our regions colleges and universities to focus these resources on transformational initiatives. The Collaborative is working with the Fund for Our Economic Future, a coalition of over fty philanthropic foundations in the region, to assist the Fund in the implementation of its strategy. In the coming year, the Collaborative will be expanding from its original membership to include other colleges and universities in the region. We will also be broadening the range of activities that the Collaborative to include initiatives in sustainability and international business development. Indiana Leadership Summit REI has begun to develop closer ties with Indiana. Through Indiana Humanities Council, REI is participating in twelve regional summits in 2005. These summits are designed to promote regional strategies throughout the state. The regional summits will use REIs Open Source Economic Development model as a guiding framework. REI has formed a partnership with the new Center for Regional Development at Purdue University to support these strategies on an on-going basis.

Changing the direction of economic development

Make no mistake. REI is out to change the direction of economic development in the U.S. For too long, economic development has focused on incentives to companies, instead of incentives to people...building large projects, instead of strong communities...speculating on convention centers and casinos, instead of investing in brainpower...recruiting companies, instead of encouraging innovation. As the Task Force on The Future of American Innovation recently concluded, For more than half a century, the United States has led the world in scientic discovery and innovation. It has been a beacon, drawing the best scientists to its educational institutions, industries and laboratories from around the globe. However, in todays rapidly evolving competitive world, the United States can no longer take its supremacy for granted. Nations from Europe to Eastern Asia are on a fast track to pass the United States in scientic excellence and technological innovation. To the American economy, innovation is like breathing. When we stop, we die. REIs Open Source model provides a new way for neighborhoods, communities, and regions to move more aggressively to build a competitive economy based on brainpower, innovation and connections. Its not too much to say that we have entered a new era of capitalism. We are moving from industrial capitalism -- with its focus on hierarchies and control -- to network capitalism, in which value and wealth are embedded in relationships and continuous learning. REI continues to explore the frontier of these shifts and to develop frameworks and tools that civic leaders can use to adapt their communities to these new realities.

Contact Information: Case Center for Regional Economic Issues 11119 Bellower Road, Cleveland, OH 4410 .Tel: 216-368-5534.Web: