Category Archives: Economics

Symposium builds connections

Nearly 80 East Carolina University faculty members filled Harvey Hall at the Murphy Center on Tuesday for the inaugural Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Engagement Symposium.

The symposium, hosted by ECU’s Economic Development and Engagement Council, brought together faculty members from across academic disciplines to showcase existing innovation, entrepreneurship and engagement opportunities offered by the university.

Matthew Nash gives a keynote address at East Carolina University’s inaugural Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Engagement Symposium on Tuesday. The symposium introduced faculty members to innovation, entrepreneurship and engagement services provided by the university. (Photos by Matt Smith)

Matthew Nash gives a keynote address at East Carolina University’s inaugural Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Engagement Symposium on Tuesday. The symposium introduced faculty members to innovation, entrepreneurship and engagement services provided by the university. (Photos by Matt Smith)

The event was highlighted by a keynote speech from Matthew Nash, managing director for social entrepreneurship at Duke University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative. Faculty members also participated in roundtable discussions with leaders from ECU services including I-Corps, innovation spaces, community engagement, the Miller School of Entrepreneurship, crowd funding, the Research and Innovation Campus, the School of Dental Medicine’s community service learning centers, virtual technologies, the Center for STEM Education, the North Carolina Agromedicine Institute, and the Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Engagement Living and Learning Community.

Innovation, entrepreneurship and engaged research activities are enterprises that seek to build, improve, create or affect issues in a community. These activities could include creating a new product that serves a community need, opening a new business or applying academic knowledge to community-based issues with partners from inside and outside academia.

“When you’re trying to build a foundation for conducting innovative and engaged work, you have to think about how to fit the concept of innovation, entrepreneurship and engagement into faculty members’ productivity,” said Sharon Paynter, assistant vice chancellor for community engagement and research. “Today’s event was a way to show faculty members how they can connect to offices and programs that focus on IEE activities.”

Jennifer Watson discusses crowd funding opportunities to a group of ECU faculty members at ECU’s inaugural Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Engagement Symposium.

Jennifer Watson discusses crowd funding opportunities to a group of ECU faculty members at ECU’s inaugural Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Engagement Symposium.

Paynter said that the symposium also offered faculty members a chance to learn about IEE services to bring back to their students.

Department of Interior Design and Merchandising teaching instructor Tiffany Blanchflower agreed, saying that the event gave her a chance to learn how to connect her students with local community partners.

“Community engagement is the future and we need to embrace that,” Blanchflower said. “If we’re (faculty) only doing research for academia, it’s not going to impact society or our communities. The point of research is to solve problems. By conducting engaged research and by introducing students to engaged research, we’re better preparing students for what their future is going to look like outside of the classroom.”

In his speech, Nash touched on using innovation and entrepreneurship to impact social change. He said by asking students not what they will be, but what problem they are trying to solve, it changes the mindset of how students tackle regional disparities.

“We’re looking for new and improved ways to achieve impact,” Nash said. “We can no longer just imagine what the solutions are and hope that things will work out. We have to work with communities, define their needs with their support and create solutions.”

ECU offers a variety of IEE programs for faculty and students, including the Engagement and Outreach Scholars Academy, the State Employees Credit Union Public Fellows Internship program, and the Community-University Partners Academy. For more information on innovation, entrepreneurship and engagement opportunities, visit www.ecu.edu/cs-admin/communityengagement/index.cfm.

 

-by Matt Smith, University Communications

New USDA report provides trend data analysis about U.S. biobased economy

The United States Department of Agriculture today released its first-of-its-kind report that documents indicators of the United States’ biobased economy.

The biobased economy refers to all economic activity derived from scientific and research action focused on understanding how things work at a genetic and molecular level. These activities are then applied to processes to improve products and technologies in sectors including health, energy and agriculture.

The new report – “Indicators of the U.S. Biobased Economy” – includes an analysis of trends in the biobased economy from 2011-16, including trends in agriculture, renewable chemicals, biobased products, energy and government policy.

A report released today by the United States Department of Agriculture, written by researchers at East Carolina University and NC State University, details indicators of the nation’s biobased economy. IECU Photo by Cliff Hollis)

A report released today by the United States Department of Agriculture, written by researchers at East Carolina University and NC State University, details indicators of the nation’s biobased economy. (ECU Photo by Cliff Hollis)

According to the report, the renewable chemicals and biobased product sectors contributed 4.2 million jobs to the American economy in 2014, with a value-added contribution totaling $393 billion. Under the USDA BioPreferred Program, which facilitates the development and expansion of markets for biobased products, the number of renewable chemicals and biobased products that are USDA-certified has rapidly increased from 1,800 in 2014 to 2,900 in 2016.

The report also found that the biobased economy is playing an increasingly important role in the U.S. economy. For example, it found that ethanol production in the United States surpassed 14.7 billion in 2015, accounting for 270,000 jobs. Additionally, the production of biodiesel has risen 367 percent from 2010, now accounting for 1.26 billion gallons. Soybeans, which are used in the production of biodiesel, have also seen a rise in production, more than quadrupling from 670 million pounds grown to 4.1 billion pounds from 2005-12.

Golden (ECU Photo by Rhett Butler)

Golden (ECU Photo by Rhett Butler)

Commissioned by the USDA under contract from the Office of the Chief Economist, the report is a joint publication of the Energy and Natural Resource Research Cluster at East Carolina University and the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative (SCRC) at the North Carolina State University Poole College of Management. It was co-authored by Jay Golden, professor in the Department of Engineering and vice chancellor of research, economic development and engagement at ECU, and Robert Handfield, Bank of America University Distinguished Professor and SCRC director at NC State University. A second volume of this report is already in development.

“I applaud the Department of Agriculture for commissioning this important work,” Golden said. “Globally, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization and many countries are developing metrics to track the rapid growth being witnessed in biobased chemicals, energy and products. More than any other nation, the United States has an incredible opportunity to revitalize manufacturing via biobased products and chemicals, especially in rural regions of our country. This report will serve as a platform for policy makers and entrepreneurs to identify where we need to make investments and opportunities for new businesses.”

As part of the project, a new web-based tool that pulls together big data and analytics of the biobased economy will be hosted by ECU and will be available this spring. The tool will host visualized data for agriculture, energy and bioproduct indicators, with individual data analysis for categories in each grouping.

Hanfield (Contributed photo)

Handfield (Contributed photo)

“This is the first initiative to combine multiple indicators of the biobased economy from multiple sources into a single unified dashboard,” Handfield said. “More than ever, the United States needs to invest in biobased innovation and create metrics that span interdependent and complex value chains across a wide range of products and sectors. For the first time, public and private actors can monitor the progress towards these goals in an integrated fashion.”

Golden and Handfield previously co-authored the inaugural “Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry” report, published in 2015. That report is currently being updated for release later this year.

ECU and NC State are working together to develop a strong biobased products and renewable chemicals industrial base in eastern North Carolina. ECU, led by Chancellor Cecil Staton, has made a commitment to supporting biobased production and manufacturing through its Rural Prosperity Initiative. The initiative is an unprecedented effort by ECU to grow its research enterprise while targeting its research to have the greatest positive impact on health, education and economic outcomes in eastern North Carolina.

Janire Pascual-Gonzalez, a postdoctoral scholar in the Division of Research, Economic Development and Engagement at ECU, has provided technical assistance with this report.

Additional research support was provided by Duke University graduate students Ben Agsten, Taylor Brennan, Lina Khan and Emily True, in Durham.

 

-by Matt Smith, ECU University Communications, and Anna Rzewnicki, NC State

Golden LEAF invaluable for current, past students

Recent ECU graduate and current master’s student Jordan Spelce dreams of one day becoming a city or county manager and spurring business and development in places like his hometown of Taylorsville in Alexander County.

But his career path might have looked completely different had he not received a Golden LEAF scholarship and participated in the organization’s internships and leadership programs.

Established in 1999, the Golden LEAF Foundation was created to strengthen the economies of rural or tobacco-dependent communities in North Carolina. Since its inception, the organization has awarded $38 million in scholarships to 16,000 students across the state, most of whom choose to attend ECU. LEAF stands for Long-term Economic Advancement Foundation.

Since its inception, Golden LEAF has awarded $38 million in scholarships to 16,000 students across the state, most of whom choose to attend ECU. (Photos by Will Preslar)

Since its inception, Golden LEAF has awarded $38 million in scholarships to 16,000 students across the state, most of whom choose to attend ECU. (Photos by Will Preslar)

“I’m so grateful for Golden LEAF. Its leadership program really helped me almost more than anything else academically in my college years,” Spelce said.

ECU alumnus Jordan Spelce says he wouldn’t be on his current career path without the help of the Golden LEAF Foundation.

ECU alumnus Jordan Spelce says he wouldn’t be on his current career path without the help of the Golden LEAF Foundation.

It was through a paid Golden LEAF internship with an economic development agency that he discovered his passion for business and finance.

“That jump-started me toward what ultimately became the path to my career,” he said.

Each year, Golden LEAF awards scholarships to high school seniors and community college transfer students from qualifying rural counties who express an interest in returning to the state’s rural areas to work after graduation.

“Part of the way we are working to fulfill our mission is to reach young people who have deep roots in rural North Carolina, who are likely to return home, and help them go to college,” said Golden LEAF President Dan Gerlach. “Our investment in Golden LEAF Scholars extends beyond their four-year education. We fund a leadership program that helps students connect with internships in their fields of interest in rural communities. Students gain professional experience early in their educational career that they may not have gotten otherwise in the communities we hope they return to and serve.”

Senior education major Tristan Hunter speaks at a luncheon in Greenville for Golden LEAF Scholars.

Senior education major Tristan Hunter speaks at a luncheon in Greenville for Golden LEAF Scholars.

This year, 87 ECU students received Golden LEAF scholarships. One of them was senior education major Tristan Hunter of Rocky Mount, who spoke at a luncheon in Greenville January 31 that ECU hosted for Golden LEAF Scholars, staff and members of the foundation’s board of directors.

“I’m very honored to be one of those 16,000 students” to have received a scholarship, he said. “Not only did Golden LEAF lighten my financial burden, it helped me meet all the goals I set for myself in college.”

Hunter added that he wants to go back to Rocky Mount and teach in a public middle school once he earns his degree.

Golden LEAF President Dan Gerlach and ECU Chancellor Staton attend a luncheon for Golden LEAF scholarship students.

Golden LEAF President Dan Gerlach and ECU Chancellor Staton at the luncheon for Golden LEAF Scholars.

Chancellor Cecil Staton addressed the luncheon participants and thanked the foundation for being one of ECU’s strongest partners in addressing the extraordinary disparities in health, education and economic development in rural and coastal North Carolina communities.

“Our desire for rural prosperity is a key aspect of the mission of both Golden LEAF and ECU. Our missions are synchronous,” he said.

So far, the mission is being fulfilled.

For Spelce, the former Golden LEAF scholar, the decision to stay in-state and work is simple.

“I want to stay in North Carolina. I was born and raised here,” he said. He also wants to keep his Golden LEAF experience going by becoming a coach to other scholars in the future.

To learn more about the Golden LEAF Foundation, visit goldenleaf.org/scholarships.html.

 

-by Erin Shaw, University Communications

ECU Economics Department Hosts Scholarship Fundraiser, Symposium

The East Carolina University Department of Economics will host a scholarship fundraiser and public symposium on “Monetary Policy and The Economy,” Oct. 3.

The day will begin with a luncheon from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Greenville Country Club, 216 Country Club Dr.

Featured speakers include economics specialists in the academic and public sectors. Speakers and presentation titles are: ECU professor Dr. Randall Parker, “Why are we Here?”; Dr. Jim Butkiewicz, University of Delaware, “The Fed: Then and Now”; Dr. James Fackler, University of Kentucky, “Current Fed Actions: Monetary Policy or Fiscal Policy?”; Dr. Robert Carpenter, University of Maryland and Federal Reserve of Richmond, “Can the Eurozone Survive?’ and Dr. Robert Hetzel, Federal Reserve of Richmond, “The Way Forward after the Great Recession: Increased Intervention by Central Banks in Markets or a Limitation of Central Bank Powers to Increase Market Discipline?”

Hetzel also will lead a technical research seminar at 3 p.m. in the ECU Department of Economics’ seminar room, Brewster B-104, on the ECU campus.

The symposium will conclude with a free, public forum including presentations and roundtable discussions at 7 p.m. in Hendrix Theatre. Dr. Alan R. White, dean of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, will provide introductions.

Tickets for the scholarship fundraising luncheon at the Greenville Country Club are $50 and may be purchased through the Department of Economics. Checks should be made payable to The ECU Foundation and mailed to Dr. Randall Parker, ECU Dept. of Economics, Brewster A-422, Greenville, NC 27858.

For additional information, contact Parker at 252-328-6755 or parkerr@ecu.edu. Individuals requesting accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) should call 252-737-1016 (voice/TTY) at least 48 hours prior to the event.

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Symposium to examine monetary policy

A lunchtime business symposium on monetary policy, financial markets and the Fed’s evolving role will be held Oct. 3 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Greenville Country Club.

Speakers will include ECU economics professor Randall Parker, presenting “Why are we here?”; University of Delaware economics professor Jim Butkiewicz, presenting “The Fed: Then and Now”; University of Kentucky economics professor James Fackler, presenting “Current Fed Actions: Monetary Policy or Fiscal Policy?”; University of Maryland – Baltimore County economics professor Robert Carpenter, presenting “Can the Eurozone Survive?”; and senior enonomist, Federal Reserve of Richmond, Robert Hetzel presenting, “The Way Forward after the Great Recession: Increased Intervention by Central Banks in Markets or a Limitation of Central Bank Powers to Increase Market Discipline?”

The event is open to the public for a $50 charge for lunch and the forum. For additional information contact Randall Parker at parker@ecu.edu. Checks should be made payable to The ECU Foundation and mailed to Parker at the ECU Department of Economics, Brewster A-422, Greenville, NC  27858.