In states across America, higher education systems, universities, and community colleges are working to help their regions and states advance in the new knowledge economy. They are marshalling each of their core responsibilities — education, innovation, knowledge transfer, and community engagement — in ways designed to spur economic development.
Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government researched various programs and projects in about a dozen of the states and found how various higher education institutions are revitalizing their regional and state economies. They also researched beyond the range and scope of efforts in different states and systems and investigated in how the programs got started, how they have worked, and where they are going.
The summary of their results are:
* First, institutions and systems are advancing innovation — new technologies, new processes, new products, new ideas — in their local and regional economies. This focus
on innovation sees university faculty and leaders thinking creatively about how to leverage their strengths in knowledge creation to yield tangible economic benefits.
* Second, higher education institutions and systems are pursuing strategies to help employers prosper and grow. They do this by deploying their strengths in knowledge
transfer — through worker training, management counseling, help for startups, and other initiatives.
* Third, higher education institutions are playing a more vigorous role in community revitalization. Many are a significant factor in the life of their home communities,
and take that responsibility seriously.
* Finally, higher education’s most fundamental contribution to economic development lies in its traditional role: creating an educated population. The new economy is making the traditional academic mission ever more important.