Note: The writing here is exclusively my own opinion, and the thoughts expressed on this site are not endorsed by and do not in anyway represent the opinions of my employer, SSTI.
Although I find myself writing an extensive amount during the day, I rarely (read: never) share many of my more personal thoughts on the issues that I cover professionally. As mentioned previously, my hope is to use this space in a similar fashion as my twitter, where you will mainly find “economic development policy (and other things).”
But first, a bit about me. My name is Jonathan Dworin and I currently work as a Policy Analyst for SSTI, where I have worked since 2014. SSTI is the community for state, university, regional and federal innovation leaders — people working to create a climate where prosperity occurs organically through science, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship (STIE). I believe that STIE is at the core of all economic development.
Previously, I received a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. During my time in Minneapolis, I worked in a variety of economic development fields. My graduate research focused on industry clusters, economic competitiveness, transportation, and immigration. Working alongside the Itasca Project, I consulted for GREATER MSP, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership on sector strategies, regional branding, and talent attraction and retention. I also interned with the now-dissolved BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota, a nonprofit affiliate of Life Science Alley (now known as Medical Alley), the nation’s largest life science trade association. I am interested in how changes in a region’s industry sectors impact social, political, and economic circumstances within a place.
I received a Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University’s James Madison College, a public-policy residential college. My major was Social Relations and Policy, though I specialized in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy, as well as Urban Planning. During my time at MSU, I conducted research with the Land Policy Institute, an interdisciplinary research organization at the university focused on Placemaking, regional prosperity, and land-use planning. I consider social relations and attitudes toward place to be critically important to understanding regional economic development.
My family hails from Detroit, where the Dworin’s historically worked in scrap metal – a vital, yet forgotten part of one of the world’s most competitive industry clusters. I’m the youngest of four, and while none of my siblings or I still live in Michigan, it is still the place we call home. This Dworin Diaspora, and the reasons for it, is another interest of mine. I feel that demographic changes and their underlying causes are an often overlooked component of economic development research.
I’ve spent my entire life in the American Midwest, from Metro Detroit to East Lansing, from Minneapolis to Columbus. While I love to visit cities in the South and on the Coasts (and abroad!) it is ultimately the cities in this Midwest mega region, the so-called Rust Belt, that are the most comfortable – and the most interesting to me. I believe that the lessons learned in the American Midwest can offer lessons learned to the rest of the United States, and to the world.
All in all, my background informs my beliefs, and will ultimately inform the blog posts that you read on this site. I imagine these posts will emphasize a combination of economic development, urban planning, and public policy. Though, as promised, you will also find some other things.
Economic development can be traced to science, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A region’s industries and demographics – and the changes within these areas – can impact, both positively and negatively, a place’s social, political, and economic structures. Perhaps no place are these items truer than in the Midwest, the region from which I draw inspiration.