Center for Regional Development gains five-year funding

BGSU’s Center for Regional Development (CRD) has entered into a five-year, $1.5 million partnership with the Economic Development Administration (EDA) under the EDA’s University Center Program.

One of nine centers funded within the EDA Chicago region, BGSU and its longtime partner, Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, collaborate as a Rural Universities Consortium University Center. The EDA funding allows the center to partner with economic developers and businesses on expansion and attraction projects, particularly in underserved rural communities.

“We’re very pleased to learn of this sustaining funding and eager to continue working with our partners to promote economic growth and community development in our region,” said Dr. Russell Mills, CRD research fellow and principal investigator on the grant. Mills is also a faculty member in political science.

The CRD is an interdisciplinary research, data analytics and technical assistance center with expertise in regional economics and community development. Its mission is to design and implement innovative and pragmatic solutions to a wide variety of regional challenges.

One of the Center for Regional Development’s signature projects funded by the EDA grant is the annual State of the Region Conference, held in March, which provides economic development leaders, officials and other organizational leaders a look into trends and factors impacting the 19-county region of Ohio, along with expert panel discussions on relevant economic development topics.

“This year will be our 15th annual State of the Region Conference,” said Will Burns, CRD interim director. “We are pleased that the conference has become a premier gathering of local economic development, business and government leaders in northwest Ohio.”

The EDA grant will also support CRD’s technical assistance and applied research efforts. Recently, the center assisted the Village of Pioneer and the Maumee Valley Planning Organization (MVPO) in securing over $2 million in federal and state funds for an industrial connector project to support the expansion of a local manufacturing firm. Additionally, CRD collaborated with Fulton County Economic Development and MVPO to secure over $1.6 million in federal and state funding to construct a raw water supply line for Nature Fresh Farms’ greenhouse facility near the Village of Delta.

The CRD will also continue its tradition of producing rigorous applied research for the public and its partners, Mills said. As part of the EDA partnership, the center will examine the conditions and factors that lead foreign-owned companies to invest or “reshore” previously outsourced jobs to the United States. This work will assist both the efforts of the Regional Growth Partnership and JobsOhio to encourage foreign direct investment in northwest Ohio.

In addition, the center will continue to facilitate a regional approach to economic development through its work as administrator of Northwest Ohio Regional Economic Development (NORED). The EDA funding will allow the CRD to continue to provide data and analytics in support of regional workforce development initiatives undertaken by NORED and other groups.