Big Ten Universities convene summit on Midwest economy; leaders say it is time to act
Motivated by a desire to draw attention to the vital role the Midwest plays in the life of the nation and to highlight challenges the region faces to remain economically competitive, the provosts from the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), a consortium of the Big Ten universities plus the University of Chicago, have partnered with the Federal Reserve Banks of Minneapolis and Chicago to bring together key leaders for an economic summit Thursday, June 26 and Friday 27 at the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis.
The CIC is made up of 12 research universities with campuses in eight states which include the University of Chicago, University of Illinois, Indiana University, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University and University of Wisconsin-Madison.
University leaders, leaders of regional banks, chief executive officers, government leaders, economists, researchers and professors will come together to find ways to break down barriers that prevent them from effectively working together to build a vital Midwest economy. The summit, “Developing a Regional View of the Midwest Economy: Breaking Down Barriers That Impede Regional Progress,” is sponsored by the University of Minnesota, the CIC and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
“Like the national economy, the Midwest economy is facing great challenges. We believe it is important for our universities to work closely with each other and with CEOs and leaders of government to make the Midwest economy more robust,” said University of Minnesota Provost Thomas Sullivan.
The region already possesses vitally important assets, including the Great Lakes, significant industrial and corporate entities, world-class research universities, dynamic cities and agricultural resources -- all of which are central to a vibrant Midwest economy. The National Science Foundation (NSF) reports that the 12 CIC universities received over $3.1 billion in federal science and engineering support in FY2005. This represents 12.4 percent of the total federal science and engineering dollars -- some $25.4 billion -- awarded in the U.S. for that year. In addition, CIC universities have been awarded 18 percent of the total NSF science and engineering dollars, and nearly 16 percent of the total U.S. Department of Agriculture dollars.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) reports that the seven states of the Midwest -- Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan -- have a robust nonprofit sector, which is highly competitive for federal research and development funds, with three of the top 10 nonprofit recipients of federal research and development funds in the Midwest -- the Mayo Foundation, Battelle Memorial Institute and the IIT Research Institute.
“When you assess the human and physical capital assets of our region, they are considerable; however our region’s position is slipping relative to the rest of the country,” Sullivan said. “This may be a watershed moment for the Midwest in terms of an available, talented workforce, as well as productivity.”
The region attracts research and development and boasts educational resources, but the Midwest has also witnessed a dramatic restructuring of the region’s economy to rely less on manufacturing. And, the Midwest population is also growing older than the nation on the whole and, in turn, the region has been losing its influence at the national level -- since 1930, every Midwestern state has lost congressional seats.
“The Midwest economy is undergoing an uneven transition to a new economic model propelled by knowledge based industries. While cities such as Chicago and Minneapolis have prospered by reinventing themselves and becoming meccas for new industries and talented workers, other parts of the region struggle with moving up the economic food chain. What is clear is that the production and retention of skilled human capital will have to be at the center of any regional plan to promote economic vitality,” said Richard Mattoon, senior economist and economic advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
The region has strengths to build on, but it is losing ground as other regions make a more compelling case for where investment should go.
“The Midwest is failing the challenge of globalization, largely because it’s so balkanized, with each state trying to compete in the global economy. Midwestern states are simply too small, too incompetent, too obsessed with the wreckage of the industrial economy, to deal with the problems of the future, like education. It’s time for other players -- cities, businesses, especially universities -- to come together in a concerted regional approach that would leverage the Midwest’s strengths, not undermine them,” said Richard C. Longworth, senior fellow, Chicago Council on Global Affairs and author of the new book, “Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism” (Bloomsbury).
CIC member university leaders as well as leaders of regional banks and other summit attendees want to stop that erosion and, instead, start gaining ground.
“We believe it is time for us to do more than talk together. It is time to act together,” Sullivan said.
Thursday, June 26
8:00 p.m. Welcome: Gary H. Stern, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President and Robert Bruininks, University of Minnesota President
Keynote Address: Robert Lucas, University of Chicago, Nobel Laureate
Friday, June 27
9:00 a.m. “The Private Returns to Human Capital”
Speaker: Lance Lochner, University of Western Ontario
10:00 a.m. “Mobility of Human Capital”
Speaker: John Kennan, University of Wisconsin-Madison
11:00 a.m. “Valuing the Benefits of the Education Provided by Public Universities”
Speaker: Paul Glewwe, University of Minnesota
12:00 p.m. “Early Childhood Development: Economic Development with High Public Return”
Speaker: Arthur Rolnick, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
1:00 p.m. Panel: “The Case For a Regional View: How Can Our States Cooperate in Order to Gain Competitive Advantage?”
Moderator: Chris Farrell, Marketplace Money Radio Show
Richard Longworth, Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Tom Holmes, University of Minnesota
2:15 p.m. Panel: “Where do we go from here?”
Moderator: Chris Farrell, Marketplace Money Radio Show
Frank Beal, Chicago Metropolis 2020 Project
Connie Shoemake/Mark Cleverley, IBM
3:00 - 4:00 p.m. “The Imperative for Regional Cooperation”
Speaker: Lou Anna K. Simon, Michigan State University President
For more information, contact University News Service.
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