People, Places and Production


Since the “Great Recession” of the late 2000’s, the voices expressing a conventional wisdom that advanced economies can sustain economic shocks without a strong production base have all but been silenced.  This U-turn in macroeconomic thinking has returned policymakers to some persistent questions about how to understand the relationship between technological innovations and existing production processes. Previous research highlights – again and again – how manufacturing processes adapt to new technologies incrementally and unevenly across time and place. 

The Center for Urban Innovation conducts and supports research projects that examines the connection between people, places, and production through an interdisciplinary lens that understands the adoption of new technologies – a focus of work here at Georgia Tech  – as highly contingent. Technological adaptation depends on industry, sector, location, capital availability, labor skills and costs, policy, and individual firm strategies.  Again, this nuanced, dynamic, and non-linear experience of how new production processes transformed in the late 20th century and has re-emerged in the 21st century economy points to the need for continued research into industries and sectors.

It also means that generalizations are hard to justify about how production is changing and why the role of these key factors: industry, sector, location, capital availability, labor skills and costs, policy, and firm strategies, matter so much.  In a world economy often described as “flat,” it is the uneven assets and factor conditions between places that often stand out. And here, policy is a key determinant.  Increasingly, policy variation shapes regional variation in costs, risks, and capacities.   

The Center for Urban Innovation’s goals include engaged and rigorous research on the relationship between people, places, and production that is policy relevant, replicable, and generalizable.



Industrial Data and Regional Economic Development

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The project analyzes the policy implications that surround the sharing and use of industrial datafor small firms, utilities, large corporations, and a start-ups. The project also examines the potential for commercialization of industrial data and the development of new markets. The goal of the project is to understand the implications of industrial data for regional economic development and to design a model of industrial data as an emerging industry sector with its own critical input factors and specialized infrastructure requirements.

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The Essential Economy: Valuing Working, Immigration, and Jobs

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The Essential Economy Council is a bipartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that originates research and communications that will be used to educate elected officials and business leaders on the value of The Essential Economy. The latest element of this work is a detailed case study on the Essential Economy in Sandy Springs.

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Working Regions: Rethinking Regional Manufacturing Policy

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The Rethinking Regional Manufacturing Policy research network engages scholars studying recent developments in manufacturing policies in advanced industrialized countries including the shift towards comprehensive regional strategies to support advanced manufacturing.

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Creating the Jobs of the Future: The Milstein Commission on New Manufacturing


New Manufacturing Commission: 
Over the next decade, advanced technologies, major shifts in global demand, and greater emphasis on customization will fundamentally redefine manufacturing and create significant growth potential for small- and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises (SMEs).  As we enter this new era of manufacturing, what can be done to facilitate the growth of an American “mittelstand”—and the middle-class jobs created by SMEs?

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Evolution of Industry Clusters and Photonics Policy

string of lights is a resource for members of the science, technology, and policy communities in research, industry, government, and academia with an interest in the development and diffusion of innovations in optics and photonics and the industries that apply and adapt photonics technologies in research and manufacturing.

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Manufacturing Ecosystem Exchange (ME2)

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ME2 will connect regional and state actors to a network of economic development models, focused on strengthening and cultivating high performing advanced manufacturing clusters in vibrant ecosystems in order to facilitate engagement and consultation.

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Mobile Cuisine and Community Spaces

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The Food Truck Movement is more than a popular culinary trend: It is transforming the urban experience by pushing local governance and policy, developing community economies, and building cultural identity in cities across the country.

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Regeneration Economies

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The regeneration economies project, launched in April 2013 and continuing through 2015, examines new ways of conceptualizing regional economies by drawing upon a comparative analysis of two city regions - Birmingham and Chicago with the ambition of developing a distinctive interdisciplinary Birmingham and Chicago school approach to understanding regional economies.

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Reporting at the Southern Borders: Journalism and Public Debates on Immigration in the U.S. and the E.U

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This interdisciplinary, international project fills a major gap in political science and communication literature on the role of news media in public debates over immigration by providing unique insider’s perspectives on journalistic practices and bringing them into dialogue with scholars and immigrant rights practitioners.

Learn more about border reporting