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Posted 09.08.06


Center to Boost Missouri's Prospects in the Global Marketplace

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- The University of Missouri-Columbia has launched a new Center for Regional Competitiveness as part of the Truman School of Public Affairs' Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI). The Center aims to help Missouri regions and the Heartland prosper in a rapidly changing global economy.

"We believe this Center will add great value to the economic future of Missouri, and we further believe it can quickly become a national and global leader in this important work," said MU Chancellor Brady Deaton.

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Mark R. Drabenstott will be director of the new Center. As vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, he was the founding director of the Center for the Study of Rural America, the Federal Reserve's focal point for research on rural regions.

Globalization has brought intense competitive challenges to the region, and the Center for Regional Competitiveness will help Missouri compete more effectively in the global economic race. Only a handful of Missouri counties rank among the nation's economic leaders. Many regions throughout the nation, including northeast Ohio; Fargo, N.D.; Morehead, Minn.; and San Diego, have embraced a new development strategy founded on inherent economic strengths. Similarly, this Center will help Missouri regions map their strengths and forge new strategies to exploit them.

"Past trends need not be prologue to the future," said Charles W. Fluharty, RUPRI director. "We believe there are exciting opportunities for Missouri and our region to close this gap. This Center will leverage the University's great legacy of policy analysis and research to craft more effective strategies for competing in the global economy. We are delighted that Mark Drabenstott, one of the foremost thought leaders in the world on regional competitiveness, will be joining our team to lead this bold initiative."

The Center will have four key functions: (1) developing economic indicators that help regions understand their economic competitive standing; (2) providing tools that help regions diagnose their competitive advantage and build coherent strategies to seize it; (3) building a better bridge between the research and innovation happening on campus and those strategies; and (4) analyzing the impact of public policy on the competitiveness of regions.

"Launching this Center will be a major undertaking. Accordingly, we will consult with key stakeholders and partners over the next few months about the Center's work. At the end of this period, we look forward to sharing more information," Drabenstott said. "I am excited about the opportunity to work with our region's public and private leaders in building a stronger economy throughout Missouri and the Heartland."

RUPRI is a multistate, interdisciplinary public policy institute jointly sponsored by Iowa State University, the University of Missouri and the University of Nebraska. RUPRI has an international public policy portfolio with offices and/or centers in Columbia and Kansas City, Mo.; Lincoln and Omaha, Neb.; Ames, Iowa; Austin, Texas; Corvallis, Ore.; Chapel Hill, N.C.; and Washington, D.C. More than 250 scholars representing 16 different disciplines in 100 universities, all U.S. states and 25 other nations have participated in RUPRI projects.



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