Ann Markusen

Ann Roell Markusen is Professor and Director of the Project on Regional and Industrial Economics at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute. This year, she is serving as the UK Fulbright Distinguished Chair at the Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art.

“My work explores the intersection between industries and occupations, on the one hand, and regions on the other. Using my industrial organization, economic development, and public finance complements to a regional economics training, I have delved deeply into these intersections using my own backyards (Michigan, Colorado, Washington DC, California, Chicago, New Jersey, and Minnesota) as laboratories. Often that grounding has helped me craft new theoretical perspectives–an industrial districts typology (the basis of my Alonso Prize), conceptualizing human capital and operationalizing it via occupations, and the case for a consumption base theory of regional development.

Bit by the policy bug thirty five years ago (Mike Teitz’s phrase), I have sought a real-world policy counterpart for my research, taking leaves from my Colorado, Berkeley and other jobs to serve full time at every level of government and frequently writing op eds and policy advocacy pieces in the New York Times, LA Times and  sim.

Real world policy exposure, forcing me to deal with things often assumed away, has greatly strengthened my work. I particularly loved the years I worked on the military industrial complex, crafting the intellectual case for the substantial 1990s peace dividend worldwide.

Recently I have been documenting the formation, regional distribution, migration, and economic impacts of artists, a highly mobile, innovative and high self-employment occupation.

Athletes form an interesting contrast– while both groups are targets of urban development policy, artists are more highly educated and are more apt to be rooted and re-spending in their current regions. There are stronger arguments and evidence for the catalytic role of artists than athletes, though arguably, the sports world has done a better job of creating opportunities for local participation and recruitment of future professionals.

I appreciate the colleagues I have worked and RSAI’s opportunities for presenting research and receiving feedback. Mike Teitz, Andy Isserman, Karen Polenske, and Peter Hall have been wonderful sounding-boards and collaborators in research, as have my former students Amy Glasmeier and many others. Roger Bolton, Bill Alonso, and Walter Isard have been great role models. I look forward to seeing many more women and minorities in our ranks and leadership.”

(Published on RSAI Newsletter 2010 November)

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