EDA University Center for
Regional Economic Innovation


  • Rex L. LaMore

  • Director, Center for Community Economic Development

  • Rex L. LaMore

    Rex LaMore is Director of the Michigan State University's Center for Community Economic Development and a member of the faculty of the Urban and Regional Planning Program. Dr. LaMore has over 30 years of experience in Community and Economic Development and has focused his career on the unique challenges of revitalizing distressed communities and issues and practices related to equitable development that can help communities and regions begin to reverse patterns of segregation and disinvestment, prevent displacement, and promote equitable revitalization in an environmentally sustainable manner.

    Dr. LaMore provides leadership at Michigan State University on a number of federal, foundation and privately funded research and outreach University/Community partnerships. His current research is focused on the role of arts and culture in entrepreneurial "creative capacity", and innovation in sustainable community and economic development. A number of Dr. LaMore's publications, research reports and handbooks are available at the CCED Website.

    As the architect of the 1992 Outreach Partnership Act with Senator Don Riegle of Michigan, Dr. LaMore's work has affected the nature of University/Community partnerships nationwide. In 1995 he was the national recipient of the Community Development Society's Distinguished Service Award, in recognition of his leadership and sustained commitment to excellence in community development, received the prestigious Educator of the Year Award in 2008 from the Michigan Economic Developers Association and in 2011 was recognized by his peers at Michigan State University as a University Distinguished Academic Specialist.

    Dr. LaMore is Vice-chair of the Williamstown Township Planning Commission. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees at Michigan State University and his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

  • John Melcher

  • Associate Director, Center for Community and Economic Development

  • John Melcher

    John Melcher is the Associate Director of the Michigan State University Center for Community and Economic Development. He has over 25 years of experience in conducting research and outreach in community and economic development focusing on issues associated with distressed communities. His work engages faculty researchers and community stakeholders in developing regional knowledge economies, asset-based development, asset-building policy development, and community economic development. He has served on numerous community and university committees and has taught courses on community development, economic development, and research writing in the Urban and Regional Planning Program. He earned a B.S. in Urban and Regional Planning and M.S. in Resource Development from Michigan State University.

    John is a principle member of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration University Center for Regional Economic Innovation, a federally funded project focused on transforming regional economic development planning in the 21st Century. He also serves as a member of a targeted regional exporting partnership to advance exporting by small and medium size businesses in Michigan, also funded by the US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration.

  • Jennifer Bruen

  • Project Coordinator, University Center for Regional Economic Innovation

  • Jennifer Bruen

    Jennifer Bruen coordinates the MSU EDA University Center for Regional Economic Innovation (REI). In the past five years she has managed several grant-funded community and economic development projects for universities, regional planning organizations and for communities across the state of Michigan. As a member of the Michigan Association of Planning's (MAP) Government Relations Committee during 2007-2010 she gained valuable experience in researching and developing Michigan's regional planning and economic development tools, models and policies. She has eight years in business management and enjoys working with entrepreneurs and inventors. She earned a BA in Cultural Anthropology at Indiana University and has both a MS in GIS and Urban and Regional Planning and a graduate certificate in Historic Preservation from Eastern Michigan University.

  • Graham L. Pierce

  • Outreach Coordinator, MSU EDA University Center for Regional Economic Innovation, Center for Community and Economic Development

    Assistant Director, Usability/Accessibility Research and Consulting

    Project Manager, State of the State Survey, Institute for Public Policy and Social Research

  • Graham L. Pierce

    Graham serves in three distinct capacities at Michigan State University, dividing the majority of his time between technology accessibility, public opinion surveys, and economic development. First, he is the Assistant Director of Usability/Accessibility Research and Consulting, where he supervises and conducts WCAG 2.0 evaluations, advises on accessibility policy, and works on grant-funded research. In his second major role, Graham is the Project Manager of the State of the State Survey, a phone survey of Michigan adults about current public policy issues that is run two to four times each year, at the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research. He is responsible for all aspects of SOSS, including question design, programming survey instruments, managing survey samples, data weighting, and working with clients. Finally, Graham is the Outreach Coordinator for the EDA University Center for Regional Economic Innovation at the Center for Community and Economic Development. He is involved in all facets of the project, but is primarily responsible for managing the project's data collection, communications, and website. In addition to these roles, Graham serves as the Vice Chair of the MSU Accommodating Technology Community and is an active participant in the MSU WebDev CAFE and many other university and community groups. Graham earned his Master's degree in Cognitive Psychology at Michigan State University. For more information, visit Graham's webpage or LinkedIn Profile.

  • John H. Schweitzer

  • Professor, School of Planning, Design, and Construction

  • John H. Schweitzer

    John H. Schweitzer, Ph.D., is a professor in the Center for Community and Economic Development and an adjunct professor in the National Collaborative for the Study of University Engagement and the School of Planning, Design and Construction at MSU. He uses his knowledge of the social science research process to study the impact and effectiveness of educational and social programs and policies. His research interests include the measurement, study, and strengthening of the sense of community of residents in urban neighborhoods in order to promote empowerment and pro-social behaviors such as voting, recycling, volunteering, and participation in community-based organizations. Current projects include studying the role of outreach and engagement in tenure and promotion, examining the impact of arts and crafts activities on professional creativity, and evaluating the effectiveness of art/science/engagement collaborations on the informal science education of the general public. He has served as a Fulbright lecturer in Singapore and as a consultant/evaluator for numerous city, state, and federal agencies. In addition to teaching a variety of courses in statistics, research methodology, educational measurement, and program evaluation, Schweitzer has formally served on doctoral and master's committees for over 100 graduate students in 21 different departments at MSU, and he has informally assisted a similar number of graduate students with various aspects of their research.

  • Mark Wilson

  • Associate Director of the School of Planning, Design and Construction

    Professor of Urban and Regional Planning

  • Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson is Associate Director of the School of Planning, Design and Construction and a Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at Michigan State University. He has undergraduate and Master's degrees in economics and commerce from the University of Melbourne (Australia), and an AM and PhD in Regional Science from the University of Pennsylvania. Research and teaching interests address urban planning, information technology, economic geography, public policy, and megaevents. Specific research interests focus on two themes: First, the economic, social, and political dimensions of information and communications technologies, with emphasis on the urban and regional impact of the Internet. In 2006 he co-authored with Kenneth Corey, Urban and Regional Technology Planning, which develops strategies for communities to utilize information technology in a global economy. Just completed with Aharon Kellerman and Kenneth Corey is a volume on global information technology trends titled Global Information Society. He serves as Chair of the IGU Commission on the Geography of Global Information Society. A second theme is the planning, land use and economic issues associated with mega events, such as the Olympics and world's fairs, focusing on the planning, urban impact, and place branding dimensions of these events. For additional information visit mark-wilson.org

Research Assistants

Research Assistants
  • Madison Amalfitano

  • Madison is an undergraduate student at Michigan State University, expecting to graduate in 2017 with a B.S. in Media and Information. Madison is a Video Producer at REI, where she works to showcase REI findings to improve communities. Madison specializes in producing, cinematography, and video editing, and is also passionate about writing and graphic design.

  • Morgan Birman

  • Morgan Birman is an undergraduate student at Michigan State University. She plans to graduate in December, 2017 with a B.A. in Media and Information, specializing in Cinema and Television. Morgan comes from a graphic design background and will be helping in the development of marketing materials, such as brochures, flyers, promo cards, and posters. One of her goals is to be able to eventually aid the video team as well. She looks forward to being able to apply the skills and professionalism she has learned at REI to a position in another field in the future.

  • Tyler DeBrabander

  • Tyler DeBrabander is a senior at Michigan State University studying Economics. Tyler assists in the editing of Co-Learning Plans, provides accessibility support, prepares webinars, and helps coordinate social media. His areas of experience include community relations, corporate partnerships, and sports management. He will graduate in December, 2016.

  • Rohitha Edara

  • Rohitha Edara is a graduate student at Michigan State University in the Department of Community Sustainability. At REI, Rohitha reviews and edits co-learning plans to prepare them for publication, provides accessibility support, and develops impact surveys and reports. She hopes to apply the research experience gained at REI to pursue a Ph.D. and become involved in applied international development policy research.

  • Madeline Hancock

  • Madeline Hancock is an undergraduate student at Michigan State University. She plans to graduate in 2018 with a degree in Media and Information for Television, Cinema and Radio. Madeline helps make Co-Learning Plans accessible to people with disabilities.

  • Jacob Leppek

  • Jacob Leppek is a junior at Michigan State University studying International Relations & Economics. At CCED, he revises Co-Learning Plans to meet the goals of the authors and of REI. After his graduation in May, 2017, he intends to apply the skills he learned at REI to a position in the field of international development.

  • Lauren Ross

  • Lauren Ross holds an Associate's Degree in Photography from Lansing Community College and a B.A. in Global Studies in the Arts and Humanities from MSU. At REI, Lauren assists with website updates, social media, grant applications and reporting, editing documents, and organizing meetings and events, including the annual Innovate Michigan! Summit.

  • Colby Winter

  • Colby Winter is an undergraduate student at Michigan State University, studying Economics and Urban Planning. His academic interests include community economic development, emergency management, and "green economics". Along with his work at REI, Colby is also a Homeland Security Planner working with the City of Lansing in their Office of Emergency Management doing hazard mitigation and emergency preparedness. Being born and raised in Michigan, Colby is excited about what REI will do for Michigan's future.