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Highlights: Activities and Articles


Economic Analysis of the 495-MetroWest Partnership Region
The Center for Economic Development recently completed a report on the state of the regional economy for its region of 32 communities on the western fringe of the Boston metropolitan region, at the request of the 495/MetroWest Corridor Partnership. This study involved collecting, tracking and analyzing economic, demographic and real estate market data. The Partnership recently published the final report on their web site. http://www.495partnership.org/

Changing Knowledge Requirements of the Massachusetts Workforce
Center Associate Director Henry Renski and research assistant Ryan Wallace prepared a report at the request of the UMASS Donahue Institute that examines changes in the skills composition of the Massachusetts labor force coinciding with the rise of the New Economy. This study combines data on residential occupational employment with detailed occupational job requirements from the O*Net database to show how the Massachusetts economy has shifted to more knowledge- and technology-intensive forms of employment since 1990. Study findings emphasize the importance of social, communicative, and learning skills in the workforce in addition to the purely science and math skills in driving thegrowth of high skilled occupations. This work is slated to appear in an upcoming edition of MassBenchmarks.

Rural Entrepreneurship in New England
Dr. Henry Renski recently prepared an article on rural entrepreneurship in New England at the request of the Boston Office of the Federal Reserve for their publication "Communities and Banking." The report examines recent trends in new-firm formation as well as the challenges faced by rural areas in developing an effective entrepreneurial climate. Recommendations for promoting entrepreneurship in rural New England include advancing policies that build connections between urban markets and rural producers within the region. Dr. Renski will continue working on this report in the coming months with publication slated for the summer.

Study of New England Mill Towns
Center Director John Mullin continues his ongoing research into former New England Mill towns, with a focus on investigating adaptive reuse options for existing mill buildings and documenting how cities and towns are creating workable public-private partnerships in order to capitalize upon teh historic and economic value of these structures.

Place Attachment and Entrepreneurship in the Massachusetts Economy – UMASS President’s Creative Economy Initiative
In response to a RFP from the UMASS President’s Office Creative Economy Initiative, Professor Henry Renski was awarded a grant to investigate how investments in the arts, cultural assets, and other place-based assets influence the start-up and location choices of entrepreneurs in Massachusetts.  Entrepreneurs are among the “super-creative” class of highly talented individuals that drive growth in the contemporary economy. The super-creative class, in turn, prefers to live and work in places that are rich in arts and cultural opportunities. Yet, entrepreneurs also differ from other sects of the super-creative class in that the decision to start a new business is often influenced by a strong desire to remain in place.

This study examines how place-based assets encourage nascent entrepreneurs to start their businesses in place, rather than move in search of paid employment.  The study will collect primary information on entrepreneurial preferences through a thorough a series of interviews with key stakeholders followed by a statewide survey of new firm start-ups in one or two key industries, such as life-sciences/bio-tech, information technologies, or sustainable technologies.

Innovation in Precision Manufacturing: New Technology to New Business--National Science Foundation, Partnerships for Innovation
Assistant Professor Henry Renski is working with UMASS Amherst’s Engineering College, the UMASS Office of Research Administration and Outreach, regional Economic Development agencies, and representatives of the Precision Manufacturing sector to bridge the divide between Unviersity Faculty research and the research and development needs of industry.  The project seeks to develop a national model for building strong partnerships between university STEM faculty and areas businesses, with the hopes of seeding new product and process innovation and strengthening the region’s science and technology economy. 

The Impact of Trees and Urban Green Space on Economic Vitality
This project, led by Professor Elizabeth Brabec, developed a broad literature review of the effects of trees and open space on the economic vitality of urban neighborhoods.  The study analyzed the literature to determine the strength and extent of the impact of trees and green space on property values, sales and lease rates, neighborhood stability and reinvestment, and commercial sales.  The findings indicate a strong positive effect, although there have been issues of methodology in past studies.  The literature review also determined the state of the research with respect to valuation practices of trees in casualty circumstances, and the effect this has on tree protection efforts in urban areas.  Both analyses of the literature will be refined into articles for publication in peer-reviewed journals.


Renski, H.C. 2011. Review of Urban and Regional Policy and its Effects, Volume 1, edited by Turner, Wial and Wolman (The Brookings Institution, 2008), International Review of Public Administration.

Kotval, Zenia Z. Machemer, Patricia L., Mullin, John. 2010. "Transformative Temporary Use." in The Sustainable World. ed. Brebbia, C.A. (Ed.) 233-241. Southampton: WIT Press.

Formosi, M., Z. Kotval and J. Mullin. 2010 “The Closing of Catholic Churches:  A case study of the Springfield Diocese.” In press, International Journal of Public Policy

Kotval, Z., J. Mullin, and R. Rocheleau. 2010. “The economic vitality of the Blackstone Valley Mills.” MassBechmarks: A Journal of the Massachusetts Economy, 12(1), 19 – 26.

Renski, H.C. Economic, Demographic and Housing Trends in 495-MetroWest Corridor. 2010. Report prepared for the 495/MetroWest Corridor Partnership.

Renski, H.C. and R. Wallace. 2010. "Entrepreneurship in Rural America: An empirical comparison of owner, firm and start-up financing characteristics of rural and urban entrepreneurs." in Financing Economic Development in the 21st Century 2nd Edition. White, S., Kotval, Z., and N. Hill (Eds.).

Renski, H.C. and R. Wallace. 2010. "The Massachusetts Workforce in the Changing Knowledge Economy." MASSBenchmarks, forthcoming.

Renski, H.C. 2010. “The influence of industry mix on regional new firm entry.” In press Papers in Regional Science.

Renski, H.C. 2010. “The Influence of Industry Mix on New Firm Formation.”  In review, Regional Studies.

Renski, H.C. 2010. Review of The Economics of Regional Clusters, edited by Uwe Blien and Gunther Maier (Edward Elgar, 2008). Review of Regional Science.

Renski, H.C. 2010. Review of Social Capital and Business Development in High-Technology Clusters, by Neslihan Aydogan and Yiu Por Chen (Springer, 2008), Journal of Regional Science.

Kotval, Zenia, “The Changing Port City:  Sustainable Waterfront Revitalization.”  Journal of Town and City Management. (Accepted for Publication 2009).

Ahern, Jack, et al. “Issues and Methods for Transdisciplinary Planning of Combined Wildlife and Pedestrian Highway Crossings”, Transportation Research Record(Accepted for Publication 2009).

Renski, H.C. 2009. “A new era of federal involvement in regional economic development?  The case of WIRED initiative.” Environment and Planning C.

Feser, E.J., H.C. Renski and J. Koo. 2009. “Regional Cluster Analysis with Interindustry Benchmarks.” In Targeting Regional Economic Development (TRED). Goetz S., Deller S., and T. Harris (Eds). Routledge.

Kotval, Zenia and John Mullin, “The Revitalization of New England’s Small Town Mills”.  Local Economy, Volume 24, # 2 (March 2009), pp 151 – 167.

Crawford, Pat, Zenia Kotval, Warren Rauhe and Zeenat Kotval. “Social capital development in participatory community planning & design”, Town Planning Review , Volume 79, #5 (November 2008), pp 533-553.

Kotval, Zenia, John Mullin and Zeenat Karamchandani “Partnerships and Fiscal Implications of Planning and Development” Planning Practice and Research, Volume 23, # 4 (November 2008), pp 461 - 478.

Renski, H.C. 2008. “New firm formation, survival and growth in the United States:  A comparison of urban, suburban and rural areas.” Journal of the American Planning Association

Feser, E.J., H.C. Renski and H. Goldstein. 2008. “Clusters and economic development outcomes:  An assessment of the link between clustering and industry growth in Appalachia.”  Economic Development Quarterly.

Reilly, C. and H. Renski. 2008. “Place and Prosperity: Quality of Place as an Economic Driver” Maine Policy Review.

"Breathing New Life into Old Places" in Mark B. Lapping, ed., The Flannel Shirt Frontier: Life and Work in Contemporary New England. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England/Dartmouth College. (2005).

“Preservation and Housing as Catalysts for Economic Growth: A Look at the Impacts of the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act”. Economic Development Journal, Vol. 3, #1 (Winter 2004) pp. 43-49.

"Teaching Experiential Learning in the Urban Planning Curriculum", Journal of Geography in Higher Education. Vol. 27, #3 (November 2003). pp. 297-308.

"University Extension and Urban Planning Programs: An Efficient Partnership". Journal of Extension. Vol. 41 # 1 (February 2003). pp. 1-9.

" Opportunity Lost: A Clash between Politics, Planning and Design in Defense Housing for Pittsfield Massachusetts", Journal of Planning History. Vol. 2, # 1 (Winter 2003) pp. 25-46.

Indicadores de Medida do Sucesso Economico, Economia and Prospectiva, Special Issue, #15/16, (June 2001) pp. 213-237.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Downtown Revitalization Strategies, Commercial Urbanismo Comercial em Portugal e a Necessidade de uma Nova Gestão Urbana. Edited by Balsas, C. et al. Lisbon: URBE and CMPV Press. (2002) pp. 43-48.

Waterfront Planning and Brownfield Redevelopment in Massachusetts, The Changing Coast. Published by EUROCOAST/EUCC: Porto, Portugal. (2002) pp. 295-303.

Benchmarking: Measurable Indicators of Economic Success. Economic Development Journal, Vol. 1, #2 (Spring 2002) pp.42-52.

The Changing Character of Economic Development, News and Views: American Planning Association, the Economic Development Division Newsletter. (Summer 2002).



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