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The latest reporting and analysis on breakthroughs in technology-based economic development research and issues that matter most to you. To receive the SSTI Weekly Digest via email, sign up here.


St. Louis Fed: Financial distress increasing fastest in poorest ZIP codes

Although the national recovery has been positive since 2010 by nearly every aggregate measure, underneath this rosy narrative lies considerable differences at the ZIP code level within and across cities and states, according to new research from Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.  In The Unequal Recovery: Measuring Financial Distress by ZIP Code, authors Ryan Mather and Juan Sanchez analyze changes in wealth, debt, and financial distress across the country and over time, specifically looking at the percentage of people within a ZIP code that have reached at least 80 percent of their credit limit. They find that, despite improvements throughout the majority of the country between 2010 and 2015, financial distress accelerated in the period from 2015 to 2018. Importantly, they also find that levels of financial distress have risen fastest in the poorest ZIP codes since 2015, which increases their vulnerability to future economic downturns. 

Upjohn: ROI of Manufacturing Extension Partnership eclipses 14:1

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program generates a sizeable financial return on investment for the federal government, according to a recent study by the Michigan-based W.E. Upjohn Institute. The $140 million invested in MEP during FY 2018 by the federal government generated more than $2.0 billion in increased federal personal income tax, a ROI of roughly 14.4:1 according to Upjohn researchers Jim Robey, Randall Eberts, Brian Pittelko, and Claudette Robey. Based on direct, indirect, and induced jobs generated by projects at MEP centers, the authors also find evidence that total employment in the U.S. was nearly 240,000 jobs higher than it would have been without the program.

Report identifies novel approaches to supporting energy hardware innovation

Emerging over the past five years, novel approaches to supporting early-stage cleantech development have the potential to ease the transition from invention to marketplace, according to new research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center for the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis. The report provides a comparison of some of the nation’s most notable cleantech incubators and accelerators, finding that each organization fills a unique niche and competition among them is not an issue.

Degree requirements dropped as equity sought in workplace

At a time when higher education degrees are both under scrutiny and lauded, one county government in Colorado is experimenting with an initiative that has eliminated degree requirements for more than 80 positions. It wasn’t the value of the degree that prompted the move, but the question of equity and wanting to achieve a more inclusive workforce. While such moves are rare, similar efforts may blaze the way to new workforce requirements and advancements and help inclusion.

SSTI releases RFP for 2020 conference host

Is your region creating a better future through science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship? Do you want to share your story and have colleagues from across the country come to your region to see your successes firsthand? SSTI has opened our request for proposals to host SSTI’s 2020 Annual Conference. Hosts receive coverage for their regional innovation economies over the course of a year and are featured on-site through the plenary and breakout sessions, exhibit space and more. Submit a compelling proposal by Sept. 16 to be considered.

SSTI letter to Senate supporting SBA innovation programs

As covered in the last Weekly Digest, the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship held a hearing on reauthorizing SBA’s innovation programs. SSTI was invited to add to the hearing’s record, and our letter supporting SBIR/STTR pilot programs, FAST and entrepreneurial development programs is produced, below.

SBA funding available for accelerators, SBIR aid

The Small Business Administration (SBA) recently released FY 2019 announcements for the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition and Federal and State Technology Partnership Program (FAST) funding. Accelerators emphasizing underserved entrepreneurs can submit a brief application and slide deck from June 10-20; SBA anticipates as many as 60, $50,000 awards. FAST provides a funding match for programs supporting SBIR/STTR outreach and support services; the program is limited to one, governor-supported application per state, so interested parties should begin considering their application well ahead of the June 28 deadline. SSTI will be hosting a free webinar on June 5 at 3 p.m. EDT, in which SBA staff will discuss the two funding opportunities: register today.

SSTI Commentary: Reflections on renewing the middle class

Scarcity and systems issues on a biosphere level (ocean warming, acidification, deforestation, CO2 levels, etc.) aren’t the only reasons some people are beginning to have their doubts on whether capitalism is up to the challenges the world is facing. Some are wondering if the very success of our dominant economic model isn’t reaching limits of propriety of its own making.  A growing number of this community, including some among the well-to-do, are beginning to wonder aloud what’s next? What comes after capitalism?

Bipartisan bill would improve Manufacturing USA

Eight U. S. senators introduced a bill last week, endorsed by SSTI and more than two dozen organizations, that would provide performing Manufacturing USA centers with a path for continued federal support, while also better-incorporating the centers into other manufacturing and innovation resources around the country.

Hearing sets stage for Senate to strengthen SBIR

The Senate Small Business Committee held a hearing yesterday on “Reauthorization of the SBA’s Innovation Programs,” which had a heavy emphasis on SBIR/STTR. Earlier in the day, Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) published a report on business investment, which places many shortcomings of the national economy at the feet of “sharedholder primacy” and calls for policies to incentivize investment by businesses into research and innovation. Among the topics raised during the hearing were making SBIR/STTR permanent, faster contracting, and additional support for innovative companies.

Useful Stats: Per Capita Gross State Product, 1998-2018

Although North Dakota’s per capita gross domestic product (GDP) has declined since 2013, the energy boom in earlier years gave the state the fastest increase over the past 10- and 20-year periods, according to an SSTI analysis of recently updated state GDP data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Beyond North Dakota, the 10 years from 2008 to 2018 benefitted per capita GDP in states with a prominent knowledge economy, led by New York, California, Washington and Massachusetts. In general, per-capita gross product serves as a useful metric because it can show a state’s relative economic performance against its peers and over time. This article examines state GDP per capita over the past 20 years.*

Benchmark report reveals threats to US science, tech leadership

While the U.S. continues to lead the world in science, technology and innovation, other nations are on track to catch and surpass the lead the country currently holds, according to a new report from the Task Force on American Innovation (TFIA). In Second Place America? Increasing Challenges to U.S. Scientific Leadership, TFIA, a non-partisan alliance of leading American companies and business associations, research university associations, and scientific societies, benchmarks the U.S.

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