Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

What We Do

While economic development trends have come and gone over the 20 years, our core expertise has remained: helping regions make strategic decisions and lasting investments.

Core Areas of Expertise

  • Identifying Opportunities — Strategic planning and investment for competitiveness
  • Creating Rural Competitiveness — Closing the economic disparity gap
  • Mobilizing Knowledge Resources — Real estate approaches including research parks and incubators
  • Aligning Incentives and Investments —  Competitive finance to achieve strategic goals
  • Bridging Sustainability and Economic Development: New policies for a changing world

We accomplish our work by leveraging the world-renowned resources of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and partners around the world.

Our Approach

  • Generate insight based on a thorough analysis of existing and original data
  • Work with community leaders in an inclusive process to formulate innovative strategy/policy initiatives
  • Build a feasibility plan for the initiative that is actionable and achievable
  • Provide ongoing analysis and benchmarking

The success of the center's approach lies in its strength in comprehensive analysis, its ability to employ unique and diverse strategies for growth, and its breadth of expertise.

Comprehensive Analysis

Our analysis and forecasting process creates a complete view of the economic system and a depth of insight that is required for long-term strategic planning and investment.

The model typically includes measures of:

  • Economic prosperity — household income, employment/unemployment, education, aging, and per capita income
  • Business climate — infrastructure, incentives, workforce, education, commuting patterns, innovation, existing companies and networks of industries (clusters), and emerging clusters
  • Innovation assets — university, federal lab, and corporate R&D strengths, technology transfer, and commercialization
  • Global readiness — imports, exports, and foreign direct investment
  • Investment and finance of strategic initiatives — historical and potential local, state, federal, foundation, and private sector investment in economic development of the region
  • Leadership — regionalization, multi-jurisdictional cooperation, and regional partners across sectors

In addition, the center conducts benchmark studies of similar communities, comparable approaches, and leading edge policies. We identify lessons to avoid and best practices to emulate.

Diverse Strategies

The center employs diverse strategies rather than relying on one model or approach. Our goal is to create unique, achievable strategies customized for the region.

These can include a range or mix of the following:

  • Strengthening existing industry by increasing their competitiveness
  • Encouraging and growing new industry
  • Attracting new strategic industries
  • Retaining more local dollars
  • Increasing sources of external capital