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Professors Establish Local Economy Center

Franklin & Marshall Magazine, Spring 2005

Professors Establish Local Economy Center

Economics Professor Antonio Callari believes Franklin & Marshall has untapped resources that can be used to benefit the Lancaster community. That’s why Callari, along with professors Linda Aleci and Sean Flaherty, and the Floyd Institute’s Berwood Yost, have established the Local Economy Center at 713 College Avenue.

The center is dedicated to serving the research needs of the Lancaster community and to providing learning opportunities for students interested in studying the local economy. One of its goals will be to gather and disseminate information about the local economy that will make clear how all people and many different types of interests in the community are affected by the economy and are, therefore, stakeholders.

“We’ll be thinking about the local economy as not just a set of numbers, but also as a way to talk about what those numbers mean to people. We’ll have in mind all sorts of people, from developers to conservationists, from entrepreneurs to workers, from suburbanites to city dwellers, from rich to poor, across gender, race, and age, from the business community to the not-for-profit community, from industry to agriculture, and from the county down to the township and neighborhood levels,” said Callari, who also serves as the center’s director.

Professors Aleci, Callari, and Flaherty began to work on a Local Economy Center several years ago and are now joined in the project by Yost, director of the College’s Floyd Institute for Public Policy. They have now found a “place” for the center, where professors, students, and staff can convene, F&M and community people can assemble, and research material can be stored and used.

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Counterclockwise from bottom left: Prof. Linda Aleci, Prof. Sean Flaherty, Prof. Gill Hewitson, Prof. Jerome Hodos, Prof. Antonio Callari, Prof. Berwood Yost, Jennifer Harding, and Angela Knittle.

“All the work faculty and students have done will be available for anyone to consult,” Callari said. “I’ve gone through boxes of materials and all the pieces of research there are like the bricks used to create a building—only we’re building a knowledge base of the local economy.”

The center plans to host annual conferences to unveil the research results about the local economy done by students and faculty and to invite local organizations to a common forum for analysis and discussion. The formal creation of the center was announced at the inaugural conference, “The Lancaster Economy Forum: Toward a Research Agenda,” held on October 30. Here the Lancaster economic development community and invited speakers joined professors and students to discuss the state of the Lancaster economy.

“It was wonderful to sit in a room with people from all over the county—people who don’t get as much of a chance to talk with each other as it might be necessary,” said Yost. “People have been telling me that this was the most important outcome of the conference.”

Callari most enjoyed the presence of students who had done the research presented at the conference: “It was wonderful to see my students there, especially alumni who returned to campus for the occasion.”

Organized by Aleci, Yost, and Callari, the conference received support from the Seachrist Public Entrepreneurial Fund of the Franklin & Marshall Center for the Liberal Arts and Society; the County Planning Commission; and the Economic Development Company of Lancaster.

Stay tuned for next year’s Lancaster Economy Forum, “Town and Country.”

—Lisa M. Christopher