Current Projects

Strategic Workforce Contingency Plan for Fishing and Related Industries in Coastal Louisiana

RTS is working as part of a team, led by Senior Associate David Dodd of DADCO, Inc., with the St. Bernard Parish Economic Development Foundation on a Strategic Workforce Contingency Plan for Fishing and Related Industries in Coastal Louisiana. The team, which also includes The Johnson Group of New Orleans and Ann Guissinger & Associates of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is examining impacts and developing strategies to help Orleans, Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes deal with the cumulative impact of hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the BP oil spill. The focus is on the fishing industry and the devastated livelihoods of the fishermen but we are also looking more broadly at issues of strategic economic targets and relevant workforce development strategies to help the region. The project, funded by the US Economic Development Administration, will be completed in early fall of this year.

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Kentucky Science & Technology Strategy Update

In 1999 RTS developed Kentucky’s very first Science & Technology (S&E) plan. The strategies focused on People, Enterprise Development, Technological Infrastructure and Modern Manufacturing. A series of strategies were designed and most implemented to build a stronger S&E economy. A bit more than a decade later, RTS has been asked to look back at the initial plan and develop a new, 21st century plan that takes into account the vast changes we’ve seen in technology and the world economy. We are working with the Kentucky Science & Technology Corporation and its partners to both evaluate the past investments that have been made and recommend modifications and new strategies that reflect the new reality.

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Building a Stronger Workforce in Southeast North Carolina

The new year finds us embarking on an exciting new project with North Carolina’s Southeast Partnership. NC’s Southeast is one of the seven established economic development partnerships within the state and includes 11 counties. They have brought together all of the workforce boards, community colleges, local economic developers and other stakeholders into a process to look at the region’s workforce and its ability to support it’s existing and emerging clusters. RTS will be working with NC’s Southeast throughout 2011 to analyze the workforce needs across this diverse region that includes Wilmington and its port, Fayetteville and the expanding Fort Bragg Army post and several counties with long-term economic challenges. The Partnership and RTS expect to end the project with a compelling strategic vision and a number of short- and medium-term practical and implementable projects to build the workforce and economy of the region.

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Converting Creativity into Economic Opportunity

RTS helps regions around the country measure the impact creative enterprises are having on their economy and craft new strategies to build upon their unique assets. Working with our colleagues in the Alliance for Creative Advantage, RTS has produced reports analyzing the creative economies of Arkansas, North Carolina, the District of Columbia, Colorado, northern Wyoming and the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina, and we are currently working in the state of Mississippi. In all these places, RTS devises strategies that demonstrate that the full breadth of the creative economy, which includes the arts and crafts as well as all of the companies and individuals that use design and authenticity to establish a niche and cause consumers to keep coming back for more. We also look for ways to draw marginalized populations with untapped creative talents back into the educational system and economy.

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Creating Sustainable Rural Economies

The greening of our economy can create new opportunities in regions that have been traditionally left behind. RTS is working with the Ford Foundation and other funders to develop solutions that improve the economic health of rural areas, ensure equitable distribution of wealth, and not degrade the physical environment. RTS published a guide to economic clusters that focuses on these Triple Bottom Line outcomes and is working with community colleges in central Appalachia on issues of sustainability. The recent work with Ford and others highlights our long commitment to promoting equitable economic development and builds on our recent “Just” Clusters” initiative, which targeted social inclusivity in cluster-based strategies.

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Advancing Economic Opportunity Through a Strong Workforce

In all its projects, RTS works with communities to develop strategies that create good high paying jobs. For instance, our support to the Rapides Foundation in Central Louisiana includes creating an action plan for a comprehensive post-secondary education and training system for that region. We continue to work closely with community colleges around the nation and overseas to enhance learning and innovation. The Trans-Atlantic Technology and Training Alliance (TA3) and CraftNet both feature member institutions from the US, Europe, and South Africa that share best practices with each other and demonstrate the importance that these types of institutions have on economic growth and equity in their communities.

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Energy Workforce in Appalachia

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) awarded RTS a grant to assess the workforce trends and training requirements necessary to meet the needs of the ARC region’s increasingly important energy sector. RTS will be working with colleagues at Penn State to project energy workforce growth, particularly in light of new green energy legislation. The project will also examine the ability of the region’s community colleges and universities to train workers to meet the expected need. The project will also include case studies of exemplary practice at these institutions.

 

The Creative Economy in Mississippi

RTS and its colleagues in the Alliance for Creative Advantage are analyzing the impact the creative economy is having in Mississippi. Famous for Faulkner and the Blues, the Magnolia state boasts creative enterprises that encompass the arts but also include innovative manufacturing companies, which utilize artistic design for competitive advantage. The Mississippi Arts Commission and the Mississippi Development Authority are funding the work. The final report will include vignettes about creative activity in the state, quantitative analysis of the creative economy in the state, and recommendations on how the state can help this critical sector grow.

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Minority Entrepreneurship in Northwest Louisiana

The Strategic Action Council of Northwest Louisiana has asked RTS to examine the challenges facing minority entrepreneurs and businesses in the Shreveport region of Louisiana. RTS will conduct extensive on-the-ground interviews and focus groups with business owners and community leaders to learn more about the challenges and opportunities facing minority-owned businesses. Helping develop regional approaches to helping increase the capacity of these businesses and provide a pathway for advancement for minority entrepreneurs will be the ultimate goal of the project.

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Triple Bottom Line and Community Colleges

The Ford Foundation is providing funding to RTS to establish a learning and innovation network of community colleges in central Appalachia that will work together to support sustainable economies and balance economic, social, and environmental outcomes. The project is part of Ford's Building Rural Wealth initiative, in which RTS looked at how cluster-based economic development strategies can incorporate triple bottom line initiatives. The network of community colleges will meet regularly to share innovative ideas with RTS providing technical assistance to help develop successful programs.

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Montana Economic Development

RTS is continuing its work for Governor Schweitzer's Office in Montana, helping implement much of the cluster analysis work conducted for the state. Currently, RTS is assisting both the Montana BioScience Alliance and the Montana IT Alliance develop programs and services to better meet the needs of those vital industries.

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Economic and Workforce Development in Central Louisiana

RTS serves as the economic development advisor to the Rapides Foundation in Alexandria, Louisiana. In this capacity RTS helps the foundation develop and manage its economic development-related initiatives and grants within its Healthy Communities program. Recent activities include the development of a privately funded regional economic development corporation called the Cenla Advantage Partnership (CAP), the creation of an Entrepreneurial League System for central Louisiana, an analysis of capital needs and availability for central Louisiana entrepreneurs, and the crafting of an approach for developing a comprehensive workforce development system in central Louisiana.

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The South Carolina Advanced Technological Education (SC ATE) National Resource Center for Engineering Technology Education

RTS is the external evaluator of SC ATE, located at Florence-Darlington Technical College, for the National Science Foundation. The SC ATE Center works to introduce partner colleges to innovative approaches to engineering technology education.

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