UMD/Morgan State EDA Center Leverages New Funding to Network Statewide University Resources

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland / Morgan State Joint Center for Economic Development (EDA Center) announced today that a new grant secured from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) will help fund a collaborative initiative that networks resources across the University System of Maryland (USM) to address economic challenges that face Maryland’s most vulnerable communities.

“This grant writes an important new chapter for UMD/Morgan State’s EDA Center,” said C. Scott Dempwolf, PhD, Director of the EDA Center. “By amassing the talent, work and ingenuity of Maryland’s research institutions with a common thread, we strengthen our efforts as individuals. Combined with the matching support of our partners, the EDA grant will help us continue our efforts through collaboration, research, teaching and economic development practice.”

Dempwolf will work with University System of Maryland’s new Vice Chancellor for Economic Development, Tom Sadowski, to develop a statewide network of economic developers working in and with USM’s 12 member institutions and two regional higher education centers. The network will connect economic research, resources and best practices across all of the institutions, strengthening the capacity of USM and its member institutions to translate Maryland’s investments in research and education into local economic development impact statewide. To accomplish this, Dempwolf will apply innovation network analysis tools developed under the EDA Center over the past five years.

“This is promising technology for modeling and analyzing innovation ecosystems,” said Sadowski. “This grant will help us better leverage USM and other public/private resources to foster strategic economic development efforts throughout Maryland.”

The EDA Center, which has operated from the campus of Morgan State University for the past four years, will reside within the University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth (NCSG), with offices in both College Park and Baltimore. The center’s presence in Baltimore will enhance the NCSG’s continued work in the city and support new sustainable economic development opportunities throughout the state.

In addition to establishing a statewide network of university-based economic developers, the EDA Center will focus on three major objectives over the next five years:

Assist in the Development of Innovation Districts, Including Baltimore’s Innovation Village. In Maryland, innovation districts—compact, transit and tech-wired mixed-use areas, anchored by institutions—are emerging in College Park and Baltimore, while several other communities around the state are in the investigation or planning stages. Morgan State University Professor of Planning and Interim Assistant Dean of the School of Architecture, Siddhartha Sen, PhD, will work with the Mount Royal Community Development Corporation to create economic development strategies for Innovation Village, a newly designated innovation district in west Baltimore. Faculty/student-driven urban planning efforts at both universities will support the project. “I am excited by this opportunity to create economic development strategies for Innovation Village,” said Sen. “It will provide our students a wonderful opportunity for hands on experience in economic development and fits into our school’s mission of fulfillment and advancement of spatial justice, urban revitalization and sustainability. The project also ties very well into the university’s mission of giving significant priority to addressing societal problems, particularly those prevalent in urban communities.”
Provide Technical Assistance to Maryland Communities. Working both independently and with NCSG’s Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS), the University Center will provide economic development and urban planning technical assistance directly to Maryland communities. PALS is a campus-wide initiative at the University of Maryland that enlists faculty expertise and student ingenuity to offer fresh solutions to challenges facing Maryland communities. A Community Planning Studio course this year taught by Dempwolf will focus on maritime-related industries in and around the City of Annapolis and its maritime industrial districts. The studio will examine ways to grow maritime and related industries in Annapolis – including whether the development of maker-spaces and an innovation district make sense for the city.
Facilitate Technology Transfer, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship. Leveraging Dempwolf’s network analysis technology, the EDA Center will work closely with UM Ventures—a joint program in commercialization between University of Maryland, College Park and University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB)—as well as university administration officials and staff, to implement new tools to help the university accelerate tech transfer, commercialization and entrepreneurship. “Innovation has emerged as a key driver of economic growth. Leveraging the talent and entrepreneurial spirit of our students and faculty requires us to forge partnerships and networks across institutions, connecting the ideas, talent and resources of the University of Maryland with other institutions, organizations and companies throughout Maryland and around the world into a dynamic, innovation ecosystem,” said Dempwolf.
The recent move to University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education will allow the EDA Center to take advantage of the NCSG’s vast research and mapping technologies, as well as collaborate with NCSG researchers on several projects. One such project, led by NCSG director Gerrit Knaap, PhD, will offer technical assistance to economic development strategies for the Purple Line Corridor. As the Purple Line becomes a reality, the strategies will help communities focus their economic development efforts more effectively and complement work currently underway by the NCSG’s Purple Line Corridor Coalition.

“We are very pleased to add the Economic Development Center to the set of activities at the National Center for Smart Growth,” said Knaap. “Economic analysis has always been a strength of the NCSG and with the addition of the EDA Center, we look forward to expanding our work on innovation districts, smart cities, equitable development and deepening our connections to Morgan State, the University of Maryland Baltimore and the largest city in the state.”

The mission of the EDA Center is to provide targeted assistance to Maryland communities through research, workforce development and entrepreneurship, as well as business counseling services. The EDA Center also helps local organizations conduct preliminary feasibility studies, analyze data and convene customized seminars and workshops on topics such as regional strategic planning and capital budgeting. Over the past six years, the EDA Center staff, led by Sen, has created plans for the revitalization of Baltimore’s Morgan Community Mile, recently establishing a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS).

This new strategy provides a crucial framework for economic development in the 54 neighborhoods surrounding Morgan State University, while aiding community stakeholders and policy makers as they create a vibrant town-gown community in Northeast Baltimore. The EDA Center has also developed a series of online professional development and economic training courses for area planning professionals, created the first-ever CEDS for St. Mary’s County and produced an East Campus Development Plan for the University of Maryland, College Park. The work conducted in St. Mary’s County features an enhanced cluster analysis using innovation network modeling and analysis methods developed by Dempwolf. This unique tool can identify opportunities—such as start-ups and new technologies—that are often missed through traditional modeling.

The center’s initiatives are being made possible by a $583,335 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration in the Department of Commerce. The EDA grant will be matched by Center partners, including UMD’s Division of Research; the University of Maryland Baltimore; UMD’s School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation; the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education; Morgan State’s School of Architecture and Planning; and the Mount Royal Community Development Corporation in Baltimore (MRCDC) who, together will deliver a total of $1.17 million dollars to EDA Center projects over the next five years.

The EDA-supported University Center (UC) program is specifically designed to marshal the resources located within colleges and universities to support regional economic development strategies in regions of chronic and acute economic distress. EDA University Centers provide targeted assistance with research commercialization, workforce development and entrepreneurship, as well as business counseling services. The centers also help local organizations conduct preliminary feasibility studies, analyze data and convene customized seminars and workshops on topics such as regional strategic planning and capital budgeting.

To learn more about the University of Maryland U.S. EDA University Center and its projects, visit the Center’s website.

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