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Institutional Economic Engagement: Connecting Talent, Innovation, & Place: Webinar Summary

By Abigail Robbins, Program Associate, Economic Development, Community Engagement, & Governmental Affairs

connections webinar panel

On April 29, 2021, APLU, the National Governors Association, and the National League of Cities held the last of four webinars as part of the IEP Universities: Catalyzing Next Generation University-State-City Partnerships for Economic Opportunity Webinar Series. This webinar titled, Institutional Economic Engagement: Connecting Talent, Innovation, & Place, focused on the placemaking facet of economic engagement. The University of Maryland was the highlighted institution based on its initiatives and collaboration with regional and state partners that earned UMD the APLU IEP Place Award in 2017 and the Connections Award in 2015 and 2017.

Sheila Martin, Vice President of Economic Development and Community Engagement at APLU introduced Julie Lenzer, the panel’s moderator. Lenzer is the Chief Innovation Officer at the University of Maryland. The panelists included President Darryll Pines of the University of Maryland, Mayor Wojahn of College Park, and Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz. Each panelist discussed their experience as part of University-State-City partnerships in pursuit of increasing institutional economic engagement. Below are summaries of each panelist’s contribution.

President Darryll Pines of the University of Maryland emphasized the importance of creating an atmosphere of excellence among university-city-state partnerships. In doing so, President Pines illustrated the myriad of university programs the University of Maryland employs to create more connectivity between the University, technology sectors, business industry, government ecosystems, and local communities. President Pines highlighted Mtech and the Quantum Startup Foundry as emerging examples of UMD’s ability to translate ideas from “laboratory or the bedside to a product and to market.” In pursuit of creating a strong innovation and research ecosystem for the university and community, Pines announced the University of Maryland’s plans to invest $200 million in the discovery district and entrepreneurship and economic development enterprise initiatives across campus.

Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz described the role the Department of Commerce plays in creating conditions that generate economic opportunity for college graduates. Secretary Schulz emphasized the wide variety of stakeholders Commerce works with in pursuit of this goal including local governments and economic development agencies, the business community, and higher education institutions. Secretary Schulz noted that higher education institutions in particular are powerful engines for economic development and job creation within the state of Maryland.

One aspect of the partnership between the state and universities is formalized as the Secretary of Commerce holds a seat on the Board of Regents for the University System of Maryland in acknowledgment of the symbiotic nature of the partnership. Secretary Schulz also described the workforce development achieved through expanding internship and apprenticeship opportunities across the state as a byproduct of this collaborative partnership.

Mayor Wojahn of College Park also emphasized the importance of this collaborative partnership. Mayor Wojahn depicted the incentives of working with universities and the state to foster innovation and job creation within College Park. Mayor Wojahn exemplified this ecosystem of innovation through the Discovery District, the Regional Institution Strategic Enterprise Zone, and the College Park City-University Partnership. In doing so, Mayor Wojahn noted the symbiotic nature of the relationship so that the city, state, and university entities can collaborate to work towards common goals.

While each panelist brought unique perspectives, the need for the continuation of university-state-city-led partnerships in advancing regional economic development was apparent in each panelist’s contribution. For more insight from the panelists, view the recording of the session here (access code: L#K$9K3V)

Inspired by what you’ve read here? Learn more about how to get engaged at www.APLU.org/SeekIEP and read more articles like this at www.aplu.org/iepblog. You can also view the last three webinars of the series on the IEP Blog. Stay tuned for more information on upcoming IEP events!

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