Supporting Distressed Communities by Strengthening Regional Public Universities: A Federal Policy Proposal

August 31, 2021

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Title: A New Report From Brookings Highlights Role of Regional Public Universities in Economic Development

Source: Brookings

Authors: Robert Maxim and Mark Muro

A report from Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program outlines a new proposal demonstrating the value of federal investment in regional public universities (RPUs) during economic recovery. The authors distinguish RPUs as the ideal candidates to anchor economic development in distressed communities, thus proposing a new institutional distinction – distressed-community-serving-institutions – and subsequent federal grant programs. In their analysis, the authors estimate there are about 150 institutions that would qualify for funding under this new designation, strengthening RPU-led interventions and projects that sustain economic growth in their communities. Possible approved funding uses include:

  • Physical reinvestment, such as construction of commercial and residential buildings
  • Expansion of business development services, with emphasis on underrepresented groups
  • Connecting local residents to employment opportunities through improved job creation
  • Research efforts that address community-specific needs

The report also provides examples of how RPUs are currently serving as catalysts for economic and community development. The authors caution that safeguards should be put in place to prevent states from reducing funding for RPUs that receive federal dollars through the grant program and highlight how the value of complementary funding sources could impact these projects.

Click here to read the full report outlining the proposal.

—Danielle Melidona

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