The Center for Economic Development was established in 1977 as a public service
branch of the School of Management at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Affiliated with the Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of
Commerce, it was created as a community-oriented technical assistance center.
As an EDA designated "University Center", its mission was to help
rural areas, small towns and other distressed regions and locations to become
invigorated and self-reliant.
In July 1988 the Center moved to the University of Massachusetts'
College of Food and Natural Resources and became a part of Cooperative
Extension. This move provided a highly appropriate and more productive
linkage. The EDA mission, with its targeted emphasis on small towns, "troubled" areas,
capacity building, development of local skills and expertise, and
development of local and state leadership and resources is completely
in keeping with the College's mission. As well, the College has
the capacity to draw upon the entire University, enterprises from
around the Northeast community development agencies and organizations,
and the specialized skills and expertise of its own professional
In July 1990 the Center, while still in the College of Food and
Natural Resources, moved to the Department of Landscape Architecture
and Regional Planning. This Department, with its long tradition
of outreach to Massachusetts' cities and towns, is well suited
to meet the Center's mission, goals and objectives. As a case in
point, its faculty and students have worked on economic development
issues in more than 210 cities and towns in the past nine years.
Its faculty has specializations that include industrial development,
retail/commercial development, tourism, marketing, quantitative
analysis and data analysis.
The move to the Department also broadened and redirected the Center's
efforts to involve College faculty, specialists and graduate students.
It enabled the Center to bring new techniques and technologies
in economic analysis and planning development to targeted regions
throughout the state, to pilot new research and analysis tools
for community based development, and to provide strategic analysis
and technical assistance to targeted sectors. The Center now provides "cutting
edge" information, analysis, tools and methods, and assistance
to enhance local and regional economic development, and to help
bring about an informed, skilled public with capacity for economic
planning and development that serves the towns, regions, and the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
CED within the University Setting
Role at the University
The Center's role is to provide technical assistance to communities, undertake
critical community based studies, disseminate information, and to enhance
local and multi-community capacity for strategic planning and development.
This approach is designed to relate the concerns and goals of commerce and
industry to those of the broader community. The Center can then work closely
with both community and business sectors, providing information and assistance
needed for growth, management, and public benefit. A simple listing of the
Center's clientele and cooperators shows that the Center does indeed work
well with all sectors: community development corporations, state agencies,
municipalities, regional planning agencies, developers, business leaders,
chambers of commerce, local officials, public groups and the managers of