Weiler, a longtime faculty member in the Department of Economics, has used his position as William E. Morgan Endowed Chair within the College of Liberal Arts to create REDI. He is partnering with Dawn Thilmany, a nationally recognized faculty-scholar in CSU’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, and a core team of researchers to launch this new initiative. REDI aims to understand, analyze and inform economic development strategies in struggling rural and urban areas, especially in Colorado, through engaged research.
By studying both rural and urban areas, the researchers will be able to identify overlaps and synergies that may be key to unlocking untapped potential for economically marginalized populations in both city and country contexts. Thilmany notes that “although farming and ranching only directly involve about 2 percent of our households, the broader food and beverage industry, ag, heritage- and natural-based tourism, and other enterprises and innovations linked to rural areas and agriculture are key drivers and cultural touchpoints for our rural communities.”
The Institute takes a broad view of regional development, incorporating the role of culture and the arts in a region’s cohesion and livability. Weiler emphasizes that “we are particularly excited about combining economic features with broader quality-of-life factors in understanding economic development. Living in Colorado, we fully recognize the value of natural amenities in attracting and keeping talent, but all areas can use recreational and creative amenities to create foundations for thriving economies and communities.”
Current CSU-related projects that the Institute is focused on include the National Western Center neighborhood reunification and redevelopment project in Denver, the APLU Innovation and Economic Prosperity agenda from CSU President Tony Frank, and other challenges in Colorado and beyond. A regular series of brief REDI reports will highlight evolving research across the Institute’s diverse topic areas:
- Food Systems and Agriculture
- Urban Development
- Rural Development
- Livable Communities
In addition to a focus on Colorado and the United States, the Institute has partnered with the University of Birmingham in England, where the business school has invested in a similar research-oriented City-REDI. This relationship will lead to cross-authored publications and research that will address economic challenges and development prospects that can translate across the globe. Ultimately, the goal is to make the Institute a natural partner for public, private and nonprofit organizations seeking to promote sustainable regional economic development and to be recognized as a leading global source of cutting-edge urban, rural and regional economics scholarship.
REDI has an internal and external team of researchers, as well as both a Colorado Advisory Council and External Advisory Board, and was granted University institute status by Faculty Council in March. The core team includes: