University Economic Development Association


Women Who Weld

Award Category: Talent
Project Site: Women Who Weld
Submitted By: Michigan State University Center for Community and Economic Development- EDA University Center for Regional Economic Innovation (REI)
Contact: Jennifer Bruen and Samantha Farr , 517.353.9555


In 2011 with support from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) the Michigan State University Center for Community and Economic Development initiated a five year EDA University Center for Regional Economic Innovation (REI). An EDA University Center unlike any other in the country, a highly networked knowledge sharing hub charged with building a unique ecosystem to leverage Michigan’s higher education assets in the support of the co-creation, co-application, and dissemination of innovative economic development strategies to yield high¬ growth entrepreneurship, job creation and economic innovation throughout Michigan. At the heart of the REI University Center is a responsive network of over 1,000 public and private sector participants and organizations engaged in strategic partnerships and collaborative learning to identify, develop and implement new strategies to improve Michigan’s economy. The REI University Center has triggered into motion a widespread entrepreneurial behavior and more pervasive new-economy mindset in Michigan, setting a course of sustained world-class competition in the global marketplace.

In 2014, Women Who Weld received its first grant, which helped kickstart its program, from REI. Women Who Weld is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, based in Detroit, that teaches women how to weld and find employment in the welding industry. WWW received support from REI in a variety of ways. This project is exemplary of higher education institutions partnerships and how they should support and behave on local workforce development initiatives in distressed communities.