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Purdue Center for
Regional Development

Great Lakes Regional Training Initiative

The Great Lakes Regional Training Initiative represents an important effort by six University-based Centers in the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin to work together to respond to the training and technical assistance needs of regional stakeholders across the six states. These states are officially aligned with the EDA Chicago Regional Office, the key funder of the program. The initiative was officially launched in the fall of 2013.


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Local, regional and state leaders need access to timely information and sound, evidenced-based strategies that can guide them in their efforts to build strong vibrant regions. The EDA University Centers (UCs) located in the six Great Lakes states are critical conduits for supporting and guiding the efforts of regional leaders. While these centers have supported the work of existing and emerging regions, no single EDA University Center has the breadth and depth of programs, resources and technical assistance capabilities sufficient to respond to the diverse and changing needs of these regions.

Overall Purpose of the Initiative

To build on the unique assets of the EDA University Centers for the purpose of developing and designing powerful learning experiences in regional economic development for leaders across the Great Lakes area.

What are the Core Activities of the Collaborative?
1. Establishment of a Regional Advisory Board

A 12-person Advisory Board has been established for the purpose of guiding the focus and activities of the Great Lakes Regional Training Institute. Two representatives from each of the six states are invited to serve on the Advisory Board. A representative of the Chicago EDA Regional Office serves in an ex officio capacity on the Board.

The Advisory Board conducts business on a quarterly basis with members of the EDA UC Collaborative via conference calls. Moreover, the Board meets on a face-to-face basis one time per year.

2. Identification of Training and Technical Assistance Needs

The EDA UC initiative is continuing to secure input from a variety of individuals on training and technical assistance needs of local and regional groups in the Great Lakes area. The information is being collected, synthesized and analyzed by the EDA UCs and the Advisory Board. Implementation of training and technical assistance activities are being initiated in early 2015.

3. Strengthening of Communication Activities With Constituents

Two valuable communication activities are being launched as part of this initiative. First, the Purdue University EDA University Center is developing a Great Lakes Regions EDA University Centers website—a one-stop site that showcases the work of all EDA University Centers in the region. The website is intended to: (a) highlight upcoming workshops and webinars being organized by each EDA UC in its respective states; (b) offer users access to archived versions of presentations, program, papers, PowerPoint files and other products developed by the EDA UCs in the Great Lakes region; and (c) offer timely information on meetings, workshops, reports and grant opportunities released by relevant federal agencies (i.e., EDA, HUD, EPA, USDA RD), think tanks, foundations and other public/private entities.

The second communication strategy is the development and distribution of a quarterly e-Blast newsletter that will keep stakeholders apprised of programs/workshops of the EDA UCs in the six-state region and important reports and research articles produced by the EDA UCs or by other relevant entities.


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign/Parkland College

The East Central Illinois University Center is a partnership between the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Parkland College to promote and foster entrepreneurship in the region. The program's mission is to support new business development within the region through entrepreneur education, startup assistance, incubation and growth support and investment. The University Center provides tech business consulting, SBIR grant technical assistance, mobile application programming training for workforce development, and operates the Rantoul Business Incubator. In addition to these direct efforts, the Center recently completed a study of the incubators across the state of Illinois to show best practices, target audiences, and differences in missions across rural, university, and urban environments.

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Purdue Center for Regional Development

The Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD) seeks to pioneer new ideas and strategies that contribute to regional collaboration, innovation and prosperity. The Center partners with public, private, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations to identify and enhance the key drivers of innovation in regions across Indiana, the U.S. and internationally as well. We have developed Signature Programs in the following areas:

  • Collaborative Leadership
  • Strategy and Planning
  • Economic Development
  • Data for Decision Makers

Our EDA University Center has led 'Transforming your Local and Regional Economy' workshops throughout Indiana that focus on economic growth through leveraging assets, identifying and maximizing the impact of clusters and a systematic way to foster entrepreneurship.

Learn more about our Signature Programs on our new website.


Michigan State University's Center for Regional Economic Innovation

The Michigan State University's EDA University Center for Regional Economic Innovation (REI) at the MSU Center for Community and Economic Development is building a new economic development ecosystem, leveraging higher education assets to support the co-creation, co-application, and dissemination of innovative economic development strategies that promise to yield high-growth entrepreneurship, job creation and economic innovation throughout the state of Michigan!

Our 2015 Innovate Michigan! Summit was held September 4th and was a great success! Thanks to everyone who attended - we look forward to seeing you next year!

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The EDA Center at the University of Minnesota, Crookston

Our mission is to engage university faculty, staff and students with local, county and regional economic development agencies in support of our rural economy. Our focus is to utilize the capacity of the University of Minnesota Crookston in partnership with economic development agencies to support job creation, capital investment, business recruitment and job retention.

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Bowling Green State University Center for Regional Development

The Center's mission is to design and implement innovative and pragmatic solutions to a wide variety of regional challenges. Community and regional development may be defined as a process whereby the economic, social, cultural, and environmental resources of a region are harnessed for the betterment of the people in that region.We are working with other research centers in our region and around the globe to explore and share development and research opportunities. With research partners around the world, the CRD is working hard to provide world-class ideas and move them from our campus to your community.

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Cleveland State University Center for Economic Development

The Center for Economic Devleopment provides applied research and technical assistance to local, regional, and state governments, nonprofits, philanthropic organizations and businesses. It is the economic development research arm of the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urgan Affairs at Cleveland State University.

The Center works with organizations at the national, state, regional, and local levels across a diverse array of projects. We apply strict academic rigor to all aspects of our work and have earned a strong reputation for conducting research that is of high quality, unbiased, and insightful.

The Center's areas of expertise include: Industry Analysis, Entrepreneurship, Economic Clusters, Economic Analysis of Regions and Cities, Evaluation of Economic Development Initiatives, Economic Development Strategies, Workforce Development, Ecology of Innovation and Economic Impact.

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Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs: Ohio University

The ongoing support received through the EDA assists the Voinovich School in providing direct business assistance services, applied research initiatives and an annual State of the Region Conference. The overall result is the positioning of the region for economic growth.

Voinovich School has fostered an environment of collaboration between regional economic development centers and agencies. These collaborations aid the provision of direct business assistance services to businesses and entrepreneurs. Regional capacity building and working on emerging industry initiatives for Energy and Manufacturing have been key components of our work.

In May of 2014, the third annual State of the Region conference addressed the region's current status and opportunities in the manufacturing sector by bringing together national leaders and industry experts to discuss recent trends and developments. View our website to see highlights and presentations of the presenters.

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Wisconsin Center for Commercialization Resources

Five universities form the the Wisconsin Center for Commercialization Resources (WCCR). The Center's focus is to facilitate the entire commercialization process, by providing resources and services for moving a project through various stages, from idea to proof of concept to launch. In addition the statewide University Center will stimulate commercialization and startups, and support entrepreneurs with a clearinghouse of resources that aid economic growth.

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The EDA University Centers in the six-state Great Lakes region are working across various spectrums of economic development and collectively offer a remarkable array of programs. The following list, broken down by topic area, represents current programs and resources supported by this EDA program.

Business Incubator & Tech Parks

Start-Ups & Small Business Development

Entrepreneur Assistance Programs

Financial Capital & Grant Programs

Intellectual Property and Patent Support

Prototyping & Technology Transfer

Regional Development Strategy and Planning

Data Tools for Decision-Makers

Global Strategies

Natural Resource-Based Organizations
Board Roles & Responsibilities

The Great Lakes Regional Training Initiative is committed to offering stakeholders an important avenue for sharing their insights on the possible efforts of the EDA University Centers in the Great Lakes Region. The following are the variety of ways in which the Board is providing guidance:

  • Sharing insights on the training and technical assistance needs of state, regional and local stakeholders.
  • Helping communicate the activities of the Great Lakes Initiative to local, regional and state organizations and agencies of which they are a part, or with whom they have strong relationships.
  • Providing guidance on the applied research products of the EDA University Centers that they believe will be of high interest to regional and local economic organizations.
  • Recommending new organizations and agencies that the Great Lakes EDA UC team may wish to partner with on programs/projects of shared interests.
  • Offering input on extramural funding opportunities that may be aligned with the current and emerging training/technical assistance needs of stakeholders.
  • Reviewing and providing feedback on the training and technical assistance activities undertaken by the Great Lakes Initiative.

Advisory Board Members

Roy Bockler
ILCEDS Chairman

Economic Development Council for Central Illinois


Meredith Bunch
ILPresident - Midstate College, Peoria IL

Economic Development Council for Central Illinois


Jill Saegesser
INExecutive Director

River Hills Economic Development District & Regional Planning Commission


Geoff Schomacker
INDirector, Project Development

Office of Community & Rural Affairs


Dennis West

Northern Initiatives


John Egelhaaf

Southwest Michigan Planning Commission


Nicole Griensewic
MNExecutive Director

Region Nine Development Commission


Cheryal Hills
MNExecutive Director

Region Five Development Commission


Cindi Kerschbaumer
OHCommunications Specialist

Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association (OMEGA)


Sylvia Chinn-Levy
OHProgram Manager for Economic Development

Northeast Ohio Four County Regional Planning & Development Organization (NEFCO)


Cate Rahmlow
WIIndustry Sector Manager

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation


Eric Fowle
WIExecutive Director

East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission


University Team Members

A team comprised of University Center staff from across the region and individuals representing regional organizations in the six states was created to fulfill the mission of the Great Lakes Regional Training Initiative. Those individuals are listed below.

Lead - Purdue Center for Regional Development

Lionel J (Bo) Beaulieu (ljb@purdue.edu)
Peggy Hosea (phosea@purdue.edu)

Michigan State University

Rex LaMore (lamore@msu.edu)
Jennifer Bruen (bruenjen@msu.edu)
John Melcher (melcher@msu.edu)

University of Minnesota

Brent Hales (bdhales@umn.edu)
Joyce Hoelting (jhoeltin@umn.edu)

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

Carmel Ruffolo (ruffoloc@uwm.edu)
Kelly Creech (creech@uwm.edu)

University of Ohio

Mike Finney (finney@ohio.edu)
Jason Jolley (jolleyg1@ohio.edu)

Bowling Green State University

Michael Carroll (mcarrol@bgsu.edu)
Will Burns (wburns@bgsu.edu)

MSU EDA University Center for Regional Economic Innovation

The MSU EDA University Center for Regional Economic Innovation (REI) located at the MSU Center for Community and Economic Development is developing a new economic development ecosystem for the state of Michigan by leveraging higher education assets to identify, develop and disseminate innovative economic development strategies to yield high-growth entrepreneurship, job creation and economic innovation. At the wheel of the REI University Center is the REI Network, a responsive virtual community of over 1,000 members from the public and private sector engaged in strategic partnerships and collaborative learning "co-learning." These research publications can be found at the links below.

Current and Past Co-Learning Projects – Research Publications


Publications by Topic

Business Incubator
Start-ups and Small Business Development
Entrepreneur Assistance Programs
Global Strategies
Prototyping and Tech Transfer
Regional Development Strategy and Planning
Workforce and Education
Research Publications