USC Upstate Launches Center for Applied Economic and Community Research

July 1, 2021 at 9:17 am

The University of South Carolina Upstate is pleased to announce its George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics (JCBE) has launched a new academic center that will leverage the university’s resources to advance the economic development and well-being of the Upstate region. The Center for Applied Economic and Community Research (CAECR) will enable the JCBE to conduct economic impact studies, community indicator projects, survey and focus group studies, collaboration with local businesses and nonprofit organizations, and other relevant business and community projects.

“We are delighted to announce the launch of the CAECR,” said JCBE’s Dean Mohamed Djerdjouri. “This new center will provide opportunities for USC Upstate and the JCBE to increase their engagement with the Upstate community. As the only local public college of business in the region, we are committed to building deeper collaborative relationships with community partners—both for-profit and non-profit—for the betterment of our local communities.”

Djerdjouri explained the center is in line with a key principle of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), the JCBE’s accrediting body, which states “business schools are a force for good.”

“The Johnson College is fortunate to have exceptional intellectual resources and a leadership team with a strong desire to engage in applied, solutions-generating research that creates positive societal impact, thus serving the aforementioned ‘force for good’ in our local economy and communities,” Djerdjouri added.

Djerdjouri noted reciprocity will be a top priority of the CAECR, as JCBE leadership recognizes the importance and necessity of bringing together the knowledge and resources of the community to discover workable solutions to real problems. As a result, CAECR will seek to be an ally and co-participant in research, policy information and implementation, and solution discovery in the Upstate.

USC Upstate Provost David Schecter, Ph.D., said the center will be a “catalyst for change” in the community.

“It brings together under one umbrella a number of outstanding functions the JCBE is already undertaking in addition to adding a number of new services to the mix,” Schecter said. “We thank Dean Djerdjouri for having the vision to get a center of this kind up and running and we are excited about what the future holds.”

CAECR will perform a variety of unique functions. They include:

  • Data analysis to inform decision making in the private and public sectors.
  • Interest in genuine collaboration with community partners.
  • Pursuit of creative solutions.
  • The establishment of specialized partnerships combining intellectual capital and community expertise.
  • Expansion of the community’s entrepreneurial ecosystem through a partnership with the JCBE’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which is led by Director and JCBE faculty member Brian Brady, and the college’s student-run chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization. Faculty mentors will provide guidance for recruited students who will consult with area entrepreneurs on research-driven projects for their businesses. Students may also participate in social entrepreneurship projects in local communities.
  • Specialized data analysis in partnership with students and faculty in the JCBE’s Master of Science in Business Analytics degree program led by Dr. Uma Gupta.
  • Increased opportunities for all JCBE students to contribute to positive societal impact through CAECR and community partnerships.
  • GIS mapping.
  • The development of special reports and whitepapers to promote productive community dialogue.
  • Hosting a Community Progress Speaker Series.
  • Strategic planning and management consulting with local and regional businesses and nonprofit organizations (HR, project management, marketing, etc.).

Dr. Sam Cooper, director of strategic initiatives and special projects for the JCBE, will lead the CAECR. Cooper, an economist, has participated in multiple community research projects and economic impact analyses.

In addition to JCBE faculty and undergraduate and graduate students, experts from all five of USC Upstate’s other schools and colleges will be encouraged to participate in projects through the CAECR. Cooper said this will ensure the university “allies in the best way possible with the communities it serves.”

“The CAECR represents a meaningful expansion of the JCBE’s involvement with the community—one that seeks to truly partner with local organizations in a mutually beneficial manner,” Cooper said. “The JCBE will begin partnering with these organizations immediately.”