Good morning. My name is Berwood Yost and I’m the director of the Floyd Institute for Public Policy here at Franklin and Marshall College. The mission of the Floyd Institute is to improve the quality of public policy making through research, training, and constructive interactions between the academic and policy making communities. The Floyd Institute is a gathering place for faculty, policy makers, students, and the public to discuss public policy issues through colloquia, conferences, lectures, workshops, and research.
The Lancaster Economy Center fits perfectly with the Floyd Institute’s mission, I think, because first and foremost, the Center expects to become a meeting place for the community to discuss issues of importance about the local economy. The purpose of this conference, to generate some ideas about where the economy is today, where it is going tomorrow, and what alternative paths exist if we truly understand our economic options, emphasizes the importance of community discourse. The conference’s specific goal, to identify the research activities the College and the Center can provide to help local economic development professionals meet their goals, improve their planning, and move our city, county and regional economy in an efficient and sustainable direction, exemplifies our mission to create a useful dialogue between our College and the community in which it sits.
One great example of how the Center plans to be involved in local economic development discussions is presented in the hallway outside. The research you will see presented out there is a result of Antonio Callari and his students working to identify indicators that we need to understand to get a balanced picture of where the economy is now and where it’s headed in the future. But what is really interesting about those posters is that they provide a space for you to add your own comments about what those indicators really mean for the County. Beside each poster is a blank piece of paper; I invite each of you to look at the indicators Antonio has prepared and to write your own comments about what they mean. After the conference we will take whatever comments are offered, synthesize them, and report them back to the community to let them know not only our perspective about what these indicators mean, but also community members’ perspectives about what they mean. The approach to presenting the posters is an example about how the Local Economy Center will operate and about how we hope today’s conference will operate: creating a setting in which community discussion about where we are and where we need to be can take place.
I should mention one other thing about today’s conference because many people have asked me, why have a conference on a Saturday? I’m sure some of you are asking yourselves that as well. The reason we decided to hold the conference on a Saturday reflects Antonio’s philosophy and commitment to having meaningful public input into discussions about the economic future of the County. Many of us who work in economic development could certainly find a few hours during the work week to come to a conference, but most citizens who are interested in economic development could not be here during the week. Saturday seems the best time to allow citizens who aren’t directly involved in economic development to participate in our conversations. This, as much as anything, exemplifies the philosophy that breathed life into the Local Economy Center. I think this also reflects the philosophy of the Floyd Institute and of Franklin and Marshall College, organizations that really want to be good and useful members of this community.
That’s all I have to say this morning. I’m really happy to be working with the Local Economy Center and I’m glad that the Local Economy Center is part of the Floyd Institute. It’s an outstanding organization that will do great research in the future.
Now I would like to introduce Antonio who is going to begin to discuss some of those indicators that we have posted in the lobby.