University Economic Development Association

Awards Session: Place

BGSU’s Center for Regional Development

Speakers: Russell Mills, PhD – Senior Director, Center for Regional Development at Bowling Green State University 
Maddi Menich, Program Manager, Center for Regional Development at Bowling Green State University

The Reimagining Rural Regions (R3) Initiative is a community-driven, student-supported placemaking planning and capacity- building project developed by the Center for Regional Development (CRD) at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) and funded through the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) University Center program and the USDA Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge. Rural communities face significant challenges in attracting and retaining young workers, who increasingly are making decisions on where they will based on the amenities, assets, and experiences available in communities.

The R3 Initiative provides expertise and capacity to assist rural communities in undertaking a placemaking process to identify assets that could be reimagined to improve quality of life and to aid in the retention and attraction of talent. In Phase 1 of the R3 Initiative, CRD staff and graduate students work with a steering committee in each community to conduct a robust public engagement process to develop a placemaking plan that identifies assets to be enhanced or developed to develop a unique sense of place. In Phase 2 of the process, CRD develops teams of BGSU undergraduate students, known as Placemaking and Community Engagement (PaCE) Fellows to undergo an extensive semester-long training program and begin work to implement projects or strategies identified by the community in the placemaking plan. The first cohort of R3 communities are currently completing their placemaking plans and will begin implementation on their selected projects in the Summer of 2022. Additionally, CRD is in the process of selecting three additional communities for the second cohort of the R3 Initiative.

Georgia Southern University – Business Innovation Group

Speakers:  Phil Boyum – Project Manager GENIE

The Georgia Enterprise Network for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, or GENIE, is a Georgia Southern University initiative that uses readily available technology to distribute the advising, training, and financing assistance to rural and underserved communities in our region and across Georgia, in order to increase regional resiliency and create jobs. GENIE takes existing programming from our ecosystem partners like the SBDC & SCORE, and – using equipment installed at local partner organizations like chambers of commerce, business incubators, and development authorities – deliver that content to marginalized groups that traditionally have little or no access.

Partially funded by the US EDA, each GENIE location consists of three basic components: a Virtual Receptionist, an Interactive Collaboration Room, and a Presentation Center. Our Virtual Receptionist kiosk can be placed in organizations without the foot traffic or revenue to support a full-time receptionist, allowing new visitors to talk live with a representative who can answer basic questions, direct inquiries, and schedule appointments with BIG staff. Our Interactive Collaboration Rooms are equipped with Internet-enabled whiteboards and conferencing equipment designed to increase productivity of online meetings and facilitate regional cooperation. And our Presentation Centers will deliver BIG’s entrepreneurial programming and virtual learning systems to locations and organizations in rural and underserved communities that may not typically have access to such services.

By using modern communications and meeting technology to link underserved communities with the resources of Georgia Southern’s ecosystem, BIG hopes to harness the energy of rural and minority entrepreneurs and accelerate the region’s economic growth.

University of Hawaii Pacific Business Center Program – Together We Can Go Far: Pacific Farmer Organizations as Drivers of Rural Economic Development

Speakers: Avegalio Failautusi – Director, UH PBCP
Kyle Stice – Executive Director, Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network

Oceania covers 3.2 M sq. miles comprised of 3 cultural regions (Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia). Cultural and agricultural approaches to regional collaboration have proven effective for practical solutions in dissemination of agricultural development information and services.

Farmer Organisations (FOs), once a rarity in the Pacific, are becoming the primary catalyst for the effective grass roots approach to regional collaboration for economic and ancillary forms of development vs. top-down local government centralized methods. The Pacific Islands Farmer Organization Network (PIFON) serves as a regional umbrella organization for national farmer organizations in 12 Pacific countries and US Affiliated Territories with 35 Farmer Organization members and a total membership reach of +80,000 farmers in its network. PIFON’s vision is to make its Pacific FOs more vibrant, viable, resilient and sustainable as organization’s with a mission that its farmer organizations be the driving force in securing financial and sustainable livelihoods for rural households in the Pacific. In line with its vision, and strategic goals PIFON has partnered with the UH Pacific Business Center Program (PBCP) linked to technical, research, scientific and technological resources of the University of Hawaii system as a resource consultant to assist with economic and business development opportunities in the Pacific Islands Hawaii, US and beyond.

October 10 @ 15:15
15:15 — 16:30 (1h 15′)