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New economics initiative at Memorial to address provincial and regional issues

By Janet Harron | Oct. 10, 2012

Researchers and students working on applied economics issues at Memorial University have received a boost from the federal government’s Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the provincial government and Husky Energy.

The groups are making a combined investment of $685,000 to fund the development of the Collaborative Applied Research in Economics (CARE) consortium, an initiative that is designed to mentor economics students and support professors engaged in applied economics research at Memorial. Funding will also support part-time and summer employment for undergraduate and graduate economics students.

The announcement was welcomed at Memorial by Dr. Gary Kachanoski, president and vice-chancellor, and Dr. Lynne Phillips, dean, Faculty of Arts.

“The university has a special obligation to the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Dr. Kachanoski. “This funding toward innovation and research will directly contribute to a better understanding of local economic issues and enhanced knowledge mobilization to address them.”

“On behalf of the Faculty of Arts, I’d like to thank the principal investigators of CARE and our funding partners for their support of our students,” said Dr. Phillips. “In developing this program, they do much to highlight the significant role of the social sciences in explaining the world around us.”

CARE’s principle investigators are Dr. Doug May, Dr. Wade Locke and Professor Scott Lynch, all from Memorial’s Department of Economics in the Faculty of Arts. The applied economics research they will lead will fall into the sub-themes of petroleum and energy, labour market, resource and environmental, local and regional economic growth, productivity measurement and research and development economics, public finance and social accounting and applied economic analysis.

“The challenges facing our economy are every bit as diverse as any other industrialized economy yet the exact characteristics of our province are unique,” said Prof. Lynch, interim head, Department of Economics and project co-ordinator. “That’s why we need CARE –­­ to increase the number of economists working on applied provincial and regional issues which will therefore optimize our current prosperity and sustain its benefit for future generations.”

“CARE is an innovative initiative that will pay dividends for our students, our faculty, the university and the province in terms of enhanced skills and increased research and improved public policy,” said Dr. Locke.

The initiative is an example of how federal, provincial and university funding can be augmented by support from industry to achieve a common goal.

Peter Penashue, minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, president of the Queen’s Privy Council and regional minister for Newfoundland and Labrador, highlighted the Government of Canada’s contribution of $450,000 towards the CARE project.

“Our government’s top priority is job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity, and this initiative will provide increased knowledge on topics relevant to regional economic growth, allowing us to better maximize opportunities to grow the local economy and create  jobs,” said Minister Penashue, on behalf  of Bernard Valcourt, associate minister of National Defence and minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) (La Francophonie). “Our government’s investment in the CARE project will support Memorial University’s research on issues that are important to government, business, industry and the province as a whole.”

“Working with our academic, government and industry partners to support the development of a strengthened, diversified economy is a key element of the provincial government’s business and economic development agenda,” said  Keith Hutchings, minister of Innovation, Business and Rural Development.  “Our contribution to this innovative partnership reflects that commitment. Having access to evidence-based research and analysis will help the provincial government and its stakeholders make better decisions that drive greater economic activity.”

“Husky believes in supporting initiatives that contribute to building safe and sustainable communities,” said Malcolm Maclean, Husky Energy’s senior vice-president for the Atlantic region. “Supporting applied economics research will help build capacity at Memorial University and it will also provide valuable information that can be used to address issues facing us here at home.”

The work of CARE will be guided by an advisory committee that will identify specific issues facing Newfoundland and Labrador where applied research will advance understanding. Members include ACOA, the provincial Department of Innovation, Business and Rural Development, Husky Energy, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, the Coleman Group, Memorial’s Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development, the St. John’s Board of Trade, the Miawpukek First Nation, Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador and Memorial University’s dean of arts.

As part of its mandate, the CARE consortium plans to increase the number of public presentations on applied economics issues and to increase knowledge mobilization through its website www.economicsaction.com.

                                   


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