EDA University Center for
Regional Economic Innovation

Current Projects

Co-Learning Plans | Co-Implementation Plans | Student-Led Projects

Co-Learning Plans Link

  • Public Infrastructure and Economic Development Link

    Dayne Walling & Matt Ward
    Co-Learning Plan

    This project will complete an analysis of federal, state, and local policies that have been effective in directing infrastructure investments for economic development purposes. The policies will be compared by the geographic context, program criteria, effects on equity, and efficiency of job creation and investment leverage and will be contextualized alongside traditional incentive programs. Data will be drawn from public documents, surveys and interviews with local and state officials, and policy staff in national and regional development associations. Lastly, models will be recommended for Michigan with guidance on projected costs, benefits, and outcomes.

  • Social Entrepreneurship in Legacy Cities Link

    Jason Ball
    Co-Learning Plan

    A functional definition of social entrepreneurship and social enterprise in the context of Michigan’s legacy cities is necessary for planning. To do this, the project will consist of research on at least five case studies of social enterprises in Michigan cities to illustrate the definition, as well as existing data on the performance of various businesses along a continuum of social enterprise to evaluate the business success and social impact of different approaches. This will allow an identification of existing resources related to economic development, workforce development, and social services that can support a social enterprise approach to economic development.

  • Successful Innovative Ideas in Rural Areas Link

    Marv Pichla
    Co-Learning Plan

    This project will create a cooperative set of practices and initiatives to encourage entrepreneurial activity in Briley Township. Specifically, it will produce a Guide Book for Community Enhancement that will establish a formalized, user-friendly process for encouraging the identification and development of innovative collaboration, commerce, communication, building projects and programs. By disseminating this knowledge throughout Briley Township, a rural area with high unemployment, the goal is to spur innovation and improve the standing of the region as an entrepreneurial area.

  • The Fledge Link

    Jerry Norris
    Co-Learning Plan

    The Fledge is examining the validity of a private, for-profit business incubator. By studying the revenue and equity sharing model being used at the Grand Ledge Fledge, LLC., this Co-Learning Plan will produce recommendations on how to develop sustainable practices for a successful incubator model. Additionally, it will also describe the process used for innovation, planning, prototyping and launching a business within the Fledge.

Co-Implementation Plans Link

  • Triple Bottom Line Link

    Bill Stough
    Innovation Fellow

    In regions of the state where entrepreneurial innovation is more established, the emergence of the Triple Bottom Line business model is driving growth of companies that are decidedly place-based, pay better wages and prefer purchasing local goods and services. This innovative business trend implies a shift from the current focus of reducing the negative impacts of economic activity to the deliberate generation of positive impacts. It is the goal of this REI Fellows initiative to actively introduce and help implement the TBL approach in the East Central Michigan region consisting of: Clare, Gladwin, Arenac, Bay, Midland, Isabella, Gratiot and Saginaw counties. Although not widely described as a disadvantaged community, this 8-county region has an average ALICE rating that indicates 43.25% of the population live below income levels needed to achieve minimal living standards. Bill Stough, President of Sustainable Research Group, will be leading this Innovation Fellowship.

  • Women Who Weld and Focus Hope Link

    Samantha Farr
    Innovation Fellow

    Women Who Weld is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, based in Detroit, that teaches unemployed and underemployed women how to weld and find employment in the welding industry. Women Who Weld's 6-week welding program is funded through donations and grants and is subsidized for participants. Women Who Weld was founded in 2014 and has hosted two workshops; graduating 8 women and helping them find employment. The Women Who Weld program teaches participants how to weld using MIG (metal inert gas) welding, and how to drill, measure, and cut metal. Additionally, Women Who Weld participants receive training for the American Welding Society Certified Welding (CW) test. Focus HOPE, a non-profit civil and human rights organization based in Detroit, is in the process of building a welding facility on its campus. Women Who Weld's training program will be located in this facility. Women Who Weld will resume the 6-week training program in February 2017 and expects to graduate 75-100 women each year. Samantha Farr, Founder and Instructor to Women Who Weld, will be leading this Innovation Fellowship.

Student-Led, Faculty-Guided ProjectsLink

  • Ecotourism in the UP Link

    Jonathan Lenonien, Michigan Technological University
    Student-Led, Faculty-Guided Project

    A student research team at Michigan Tech researched and developed an inventory of the Upper Peninsula's eco-tourism resources and gaps. They compared these with similar successful eco-tourism regions and suggested a stronger business model.

  • Fairlane Town Center Link

    Dr. Zenia Kotval, Michigan State University & Jeff Polkowski, City of Dearborn
    Student-Led, Faculty-Guided Project

    This project focused on the automobile-oriented Fairlane Planning Area located in the center of the City. Dearborn planners inspired the students to develop a redevelopment project to integrate the mall site with the rest of the Dearborn community. It was the City's goal to partner with MSU student planners to create a Vision Plan and Economic Development Strategy that will include recommendations for connectivity, beautification, urban design and redevelopment opportunities. The City would like to attract commercial and residential redevelopment, improve connections between the east and west Dearborn, identify underutilized land, and enhance pedestrian access.

  • Impacts of Big Box Stores Link

    Sitou Akibode & Mark Skidmore, Michigan State University
    Student-Led, Faculty-Guided Project

    This study helps not only to understand and assess the impact of more than half big box tax abatement on local communities, and governments, but also to assess solutions. The study explores as well new forms of partnership/collaboration between communities and big box stores, including community benefits agreements (CBAs). It is also interested in the overall impacts of big box tax abatement on Michigan. A geographical focus will be on the upper peninsula of Michigan, where major adverse impacts have been seen including shut down of public spending (education, fire department, road infrastructure) due to the tax cut.

Photo of a sign on the Lake Michigan Beach in Frankfort. The sign pays tribute to a young boy who passed away and gives safety instructions for the BeachPhoto of the snowy Lake Idlewild
Photo of street and adjacent sidewalk in Owosso.Photo of Bike Trail in St. Clair County.
Photo of students rehearsing and preparing State of Emergency Production, sitting in a circle.Photo of small group discussion at a SWOT analysis in Frankfort