The designation and awards go to APLU member universities that demonstrate excellence and leadership in planning, implementing, and evaluating programs and initiatives that support regional economic development. Participants in the designation process join together in a “learning community” to share strategies and methods as they work towards developing their designation applications.
After the designations are submitted and announced, institutions can submit applications for awards, which are presented in four categories:
- the “Talent” award honors an institution with exemplary initiatives in education and workforce development;
- the “Innovation” award honors an institution demonstrating outstanding work in technology transfer, entrepreneurship, and business development;
- the “Place” award recognizes a university that is excelling in community, social, and cultural development work; and
- the “Connections” award recognizes an institution that is making connections between all of these university-engaged economic development areas.