Universities and Their Role in Economic Development
By Alejandra Guzman
Click aqui para español- >Las universidades y su impacto en el desarrollo económico
It is hard to think about economic development without considering the role universities play. Academia, the private sector, and other financial stakeholders rely on one another to create economic opportunities. Leveraging talent, innovation, and location with the interconnectedness of each of these elements are critical to creating economic opportunities. Universities also play a crucial role in shaping the policies of a region and addressing the needs of society to boost the economic, social, and cultural development of communities. From a place perspective, higher education institutions contribute to their communities’ overall aesthetic and quality of life through their campuses and sites.
Many universities worldwide have evaluated their campuses and have aimed to provide living quarters for students and staff, offering high-quality public transportation and attractive commercial and cultural functions that enhance the quality of the location.
This quality of place serves their community and serves external stakeholders who seek to engage with universities expecting these institutions to address the needs of society, including fostering economic development.
University leaders understand these expectations, and many are already trying to strengthen university engagement with society by carefully considering the needs of the community for their evolution.
Two good international examples of universities that recognize stakeholder engagement and stimulates urban activity are the Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico and Bilgi University in Istanbul.
Bilgi University has followed a model of buying and restoring former industrial buildings in underdeveloped neighborhoods to provide adequate and affordable premises for its growing activities while giving a socio-economic boost to the surrounding city quarters.
A particular project that has garnered attention is the Santral project, involving a former power station. The rich cultural, political, and economic history of the site and Istanbul, more broadly, makes the success of this regenerating process impressive. Its design and use were carefully crafted to respect the heritage and needs of the community.
In Mexico, the Tecnologico de Monterrey has reimagined its urban footprint impact. This institution created Distrito Tec, an initiative that addressed a rapid outward expansion that ignited a low-density, resource-inefficient metropolitan area plagued by congestion and drug violence.
The university collaborated in designing a master plan for the evolution of the campus, which included 24 surrounding neighborhoods as part of a cohesive district. The urban transformation increased public and green space, pedestrian and cycling paths, and social cohesion through cultural and community programming.
New Orleans is home to a vast network of higher education institutions, including Tulane University, Xavier University of Louisiana, Loyola University New Orleans, LSU Health Sciences Center, University of Holy Cross, University of New Orleans, Dillard University, Southern University, Nunez Community College, and Delgado Community College. The contributions to the economic and community development that these institutions generate are tremendous and have a city, state, and national impact.
Let us celebrate and support our universities! They certainly play an essential role in our society.
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