EDA University for Economic Diversification
The EDA University Center for Economic Diversification was one of 50 centers funded by the EDA and the U.S. Department of Commerce. The EDA-supported University Center (UC) program marshaled resources for 26+ years from colleges and universities to support regional economic development and diversification strategies in regions of chronic and acute economic distress. The program at the University of Michigan had one main goal: to assist communities and companies to become more innovative, flexible, efficient, and globally competitive. Services were applied to Michigan communities and businesses including a feasibility analyses, market analyses, strategy implementation, operations planning, and impact and performance analysis in five different areas: economic diversification, industrial facilities revitalization, minority business development, professional education and training activities, and international exporting and global competitiveness.
The EDA University Center demonstrated the University of Michigan’s commitment to serving the public as a community and business engaged University. The institute’s University Center led a number of demonstration projects that facilitated economic recovery and transformation, such as the EDA Community Economic Adjustment Program. Small business incubators were established with the assistance of the University of Michigan EDA University Center including the the Harrisville Arts Incubator, The Mexicantown Mercado Incubator, the Ann Arbor Innovation Center and ‘kitchen’ incubators (Food Works Kitchen Incubator in Huron and The Starting Block in Oceana County serving the West Michigan Region). The Center conducted research in the food system industry sector of the State of Michigan economy to identify opportunities for new ventures to be launched and opportunities for job creation associated with the value added processing of food products. Through these projects, the EDA University Center’s ideas, processes, and resources were used to develop replicable and scalable models for other institutions as they work to build more resilient, innovative communities. Partnerships with other university centers across the region allowed the institute to share resources and ideas and work together to enhance the collective capacity to serve communities. An example of technical assistance provided to firms was the assistance provided to the ReCellular Company, the largest re-manufacturer of cellular phones. The University of Michigan University Center provided a faculty member from Industrial and Operations Engineering to help improve production efficiency with a Ph.D. engineering student and an additional production assistant. ReCellular was sold to a Texas-based company for nearly $3 million in 2013. Lastly, the EDA University Center laid the groundwork for future institute programs with community economic engagement scopes of work including but not limited to the Center for Business Acceleration and Incubation Studies (CBAIS), Community Economic Adjustment Program (CEAP), and Defense Manufacturing Assistance Program (DMAP).