The Regional Research Institute occupies a unique position on the WVU campus. While limited in research staff, its activities and influence extend across a large number of disciplines, colleges and research units. The core research staff includes the Director, a Research Associate Professor, a Research Assistant Professor, a Post-doctoral Research Fellow, and several Graduate Research Assistants. All RRI staff members are expected to participate in external funding activities, including the preparation and submission of external funding proposals and the conduct of funded research. The RRI strives to include faculty from across campus in collaborative research proposals initiated in-house and also participates, whenever appropriate and possible, in initiatives centered elsewhere.
Likewise, we seek to build relationships with researchers from other institutions, including continuing collaborations with scholars at other institutions, which have included the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie-Mellon University, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Washington in Seattle, George Mason University, Florida International University, Pennsylvania State University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Arizona State University and the National Energy Technology Laboratory.
Incorporating Energy Price Changes and Regionalization in an ECIO Model
Researchers: Randall Jackson (PI), Mulugeta Kahsai, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia
Start Date: October 1, 2011
Completion Date: Ongoing
Funding Agency: Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, $96,000
Project Summary: The objective of this effort is to enhance a model that has been developed by OPPA to estimate the economic and employment impacts of NETL technology development, deployment, and operation over a corresponding NEMS forecast period, and to ultimately quantify NETL’s programmatic impacts with a consistent approach. The improved modeling framework will support limited input substation and price sensitivity response and a revised and streamlined interface to the data sources.
West Virginia Early Childhood Obesity Program
Researchers: Susan Partington (PI), Donald Lacombe, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University; Emily Murphy, Department of Pediatrics, West Virginia University; Elaine Bowen, Extension Service, West Virginia University; Lesley Cottrell, WV Prevention Research Center, West Virginia University; and Gianfranco Piras, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University
Start Date: February 1, 2011
Completion Date: Ongoing
Funding Agency: United States Department of Agriculture/National Institute of Food and Agriculture, $4.7M (RRI related portion is $653,418)
Project Summary: Establishing environments that promote healthy eating and physical activity behaviors in early childhood may have a significant impact on future obesity risk. West Virginia University in collaboration with West Virginia Head Start, Monongalia County and Kanawha County Public Schools, and Choosy Kids, LLC will implement a five-year project to: (1) examine environmental and behavioral determinants of childhood obesity, (2) use the knowledge base generated by this research to construct, implement, and assess multilevel childhood obesity prevention initiatives, and (3) empower parents, teachers, students, and community members by providing learning experiences and resources to make home, school, and community environments child healthy. Specific project components will include assessment of the community, school, and home environments for nutrition and physical activity, development and implementation of nutrition and physical activity programs in pre-kindergarten classrooms, events to teach family focused healthy eating and physical activity, and mini-grants to promote changes in the community to support overall health and wellness. The study will follow preschool children and their families through second grade to track the program’s effectiveness in changing food and physical activity behaviors.
Evaluation without Bias: New Performance Measures for Business Incubators in Rural America
Collaborative Researchers: Peter Schaeffer (PI), Division of Resource Management, West Virginia University; Randall W. Jackson, Junbo Yu, Mark Middleton, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University; George Mason University; and Florida International University
Start Date: September 1, 2008
Completion Date: Ongoing
Funding Agency: United States Department of Agriculture’s National Research Initiative (NRI), $499,965
Project Summary: The proposed integrated project demonstrates the importance of business incubation for entrepreneurship fostering and rural economic development. It shows that existing evaluation tools for business incubators are lacking and there have been numerous flawed attempts to evaluate incubator performance in the past. Moreover, it shows that there have been systematic and inherent biases against rural incubators in the way evaluation data have been interpreted with regard to rural business incubation programs where successful business formation and development are known to be considerably more difficult than in more urbanized areas. The research produces new and expanded tools and instruments for evaluating the performance of rural business incubators, specifically quantitative quasi-experimental and input-output measures and qualitative balanced scorecard measures. Major outputs of the integrated project include:
- An evaluation toolkit for business incubators. The toolkit will include a description of the problems rural incubators face, the methods for addressing these problems, and draft protocols (measurement instruments and instructions on their utilization) for evaluation of rural business incubators.
- A handbook for policy makers and practitioners in business incubation, entrepreneurship nurturing, and rural development. The policy handbook highlights the challenges and opportunities for rural incubators, develops generalizable, yet tailored, policy tools and action plans addressing identified challenges, and provides a strategic focus on the needs of the development of business incubators and quality entrepreneurship in the economically distressed areas.
- A new curriculum, which emphasizes the interconnection between entrepreneurship and rural development.
Materials Flow Modeling in Sustainable Industrial Systems Urban Centers
Collaborative Researchers: Randall W. Jackson (PI) and Christa Jensen, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University; Georgia Institute of Technology; and University of Washington
Start Date: September 15, 2006
Completion Date: August 31, 2011
Funding Agency: National Science Foundation, $160,714
Project Summary: Urban centers contain a significant and growing fraction of population and material and energy flows associated with the use and disposal of products. Re-engineering the flows of materials – particularly the patterns of their disposal – is critical to achieving sustainable systems within national boundaries, across international boundaries, and across generations. Yet, the urban landscape and population, and their associated material flows, have been underrepresented in models of sustainable industrial system growth. In developing models and tools to shape the next generation of industrial systems for materials mined from urban centers, the spatial distribution of these material resources must be integrated because successful design of sustainable systems cannot occur in a geographical vacuum. In recognition of the symbiotic material flow relationship between manufacturing companies and urban regions, this multi-disciplinary collaborative research effort will develop a framework for modeling and assessing the impact of redesigning urban materials flows to advance the mutual goals of sustainable industrial and urban systems. Our common focus is on mining specific products and associated materials from urban centers through new recycling networks and facilities for the Atlanta and Seattle metropolitan regions, and on modeling the economic development and environmental effects of different materials flow scenarios on these regions. In our work, we will connect Geographic Information Systems data to demographic data, to consumer behavior models, to product models with material information, to industrial recycling process models, to Input-Output and Social Accounting Matrix models, and to transportation and environmental impact assessment models. The resulting framework and models will be applied to evaluate specific techno-economic-policy scenarios of interest to the Cities of Atlanta and Seattle in carpet and electronics recycling in terms of material flows, transportation, economic development, and environmental impact. Recognizing the global need for such models and analysis systems, our work includes a problem-based international educational component focused on the dumping of electronic waste in Africa. We expect the research insights generated by this project will help in closing the significant gap in thinking on sustainability that has resulted from treating industrial systems separately for urban systems. Closing this gap is a necessary condition for fully mitigating the environmental impacts of industry. Outcomes will include improved modeling of material flows for the urban scale that will help in developing market-based collection and recycling systems, which take into account the impacts of consuming greenfields, inner city economic revitalization, and landfill reduction. Thus, this research is intended to encourage new manufacturing activity via waste diversion in distressed areas – a promising economic development strategy that promotes urban sustainability.
Employment Impact Analysis Using an Econometric Input-Output Model
Researchers: Randall Jackson (PI), Mulugeta Kahsai, Zheng Tian, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University
Start Date: May 12, 2010
Completion Date: August 31, 2011
Funding Agency: Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, $209,363
Project Summary: The overall objectives of this effort are to develop a model that will facilitate capturing the economic and employment impacts of technology development, deployment and operation over a given forecast period and ultimately to quantify NETL’s programmatic impacts under an increasingly consistent approach. The new modeling framework will support price sensitivity, input substitution, and allow for the incorporation of new energy-producing sectors to more accurately portray the impact of technology development and deployment over time.
Support Analysis for Senate Bill 518
Researchers: Carl Irwin (PI), Kathleen Cullen, National Research enter for Coal and Energy, west Virginia University; Hodjat Ghadimi, Division of Design and Merchandising, West Virginia University; Randall W. Jackson, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University; and Robert Duval, Department of Political Science, West Virginia University
Start Date: July 1, 2010
Completion Date: June 30, 2011
Funding Agency: West Virginia Division of Energy, $79,000 (RRI related portion is $22,160)
Project Summary: This project involved a coordinated WVU campus effort oriented toward supporting the Director of the WV Department of Energy in responding to and achieving the goals of WV Senate Bill 518.
Appalachian Assessment of Natural Assets: Water
Researchers: Jinyang Deng (PI), Jim Anderson, Nicholas Zegre, Todd Petty, Division of Forestry; Randall W. Jackson, Regional Research Institute; Michael Strager and Sam Lamont, Division of Resource Management; Trevor Harris and Frank Lafone, Geology & Geography, West Virginia University
Start Date: October 1, 2009
Completion Date: May 31, 2011
Interactive Water Assessment Map
Funding Agency: Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), $248,150
Project Summary: The objective of this project is to provide data, resources, tools and information that will enable management and policy makers to promote effective economic development. This development should be aligned with sustainable management and use of the natural asset base of the Appalachian Region. This requires developing and updating an inventory of natural assets; analyzing their value, ownership patterns, and usage; assessing their potential contribution to economic development of the region; and creating a framework to assist with planning their best use. The primary objectives of this project are to create – and integrate with existing system – an Appalachian Regional GIS-based data analysis and management system and methodological objectives to estimate the value of natural resources, evaluate project outcomes, and measure economic impacts of asset-based development.
Planning and Financing Energy Efficient Infrastructure
Researchers: Hodjat Ghadimi (PI) and Randall W. Jackson, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University; The Cadmus Group, Inc., and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)
Start Date: October 1, 2009
Completion Date: September 30, 2010
Funding Agency: Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), $44,820
Project Summary: This study will develop a practical framework to help the municipalities and counties covered by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) in assessing, planning, and financing energy-efficient infrastructure and facility improvements. The framework will have as its foundation a summary of relevant data from research, cost-benefit analyses of efficiency measures (and models for municipal use), and region-specific “best practices” (including costs and jobs created), as well as holistic models of sustainable infrastructure and financing, customized for the region, which relate energy and water management. Ultimately, The ARC municipalities and counties need energy efficiency measures to be installed that will provide savings, contribute to public health, and create jobs, thus stimulating the regional economy and enhancing the competitiveness of the Appalachian region within the nation.
Performance Measurement and Asset Mapping of Regional Innovation
Systems in the United States
Researchers: Randall W. Jackson (PI), Junbo Yu, Eric Bowen and Zheng Tian, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University; Shaoming Cheng, Florida International University; Kingsley Haynes and James Riggle, George Mason University
Start Date: September 1, 2008
Completion Date: March 31, 2010
EDA Regional Innovation Assets Toolkit
Funding Agency: Economic Development Administration (EDA), $192,647
Project Summary: The long-term goal of this project is to strengthen regional innovation systems, enhance innovation capacities, and promote regional development in the United States. The objective of the proposal is to create quantitative, comprehensive, and systemic regional innovation measures which highlight gaps in regional innovation assets, resource endowments and commitments, and policy options that motivate, align, and leverage regional assets, build up integrated and coherent regional innovation systems, and achieve regional prosperity. This research is also intended to identify regions, competitors or peers, with similar regional asset endowments and gaps yet different development prospects for future road trips of regional leaders and stakeholders and for related comparative case studies to shed light on shared and tailored development strategies.
Economic Impact of Domestic Fossil-based Resources
Researchers: Randall W. Jackson (PI), Christa Jensen, Ryan Post, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University
Start Date: February 17, 2009
Completion Date: November 14, 2009
Funding Agency: Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, $101,958
Project Summary: The objective of this activity is to expand the model developed under sub-task 404.03.02 – Energy Policy Act of 2005, Section 999: Valuing Domestically Produced Natural Gas and Oil to incorporate complex modeling recommendations from the CY08 merit review panel as well as from NETL management. Additionally, this task calls for model enhancements that will support the analysis of coal-to-liquids development. These model enhancements will result in a more comprehensive and sensitive model that supports more rigorous analyses of domestic resource development, from both on and offshore resources. The scope of this subtask includes, but is not limited to: economic analysis guidance; technical and economic analysis of oil, gas, CTL, refinery, and gathering pipeline industries; customization of existing model to address analysis scope; model execution and results analysis; communication support, including, but not limited to: methodology and model customization/development documentation; analysis definition and results reporting; and contextual analysis of results.
Impact Forecasting thru Econometric IO Model
Researchers: Randall W. Jackson (PI), Mulugeta Kahsai, Zheng Tian, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University
Start Date: June 3, 2009
Completion Date: November 14, 2009
Funding Agency: Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, $104,118
Project Summary: This project serves as the design phase for a time-series enabled hybrid model (EC-IO) that combines the capabilities of econometric modeling with the strengths of IO modeling. The objective of the tool that will be designed is to facilitate capturing the economic and employment impacts of technology development, deployment and operation over a given forecast period and ultimately to quantify NETL’s programmatic impacts under an increasingly consistent approach. This tool shall be in an NETL supported framework and the design shall support user entries that adequately define an analysis scenario.
Office Systems, Analysis and Planning Support – National and State
Economic Impact of NETL
Researchers: Randall W. Jackson (PI), Amanda Krugh, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University
Start Date: January 12, 2009
Completion Date: December 14, 2009
Funding Agency: Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, $84,311
Project Summary: The project objective is to develop a means for regularly estimating state-level and national economic impacts derived from NETL federal and on-site contractor employment and operational activities as well as the impact of providing funding to support external research. This project is driven by the WV, PA, and national models developed in FY06 that are based on 1997 input-output data. This project will result in up-to-date models as well as new state-level model for Oregon. Additionally, this project will yield a standardized NETL-data collection process and impact assessments. The intent is to develop models and an assessment methodology that can be used by NETL and its partner research universities for current and future impact assessments.
Valuing Domestically Produced Natural Gas and Oil
Researchers: Randall W. Jackson (PI) and Christa Jensen, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University
Start Date: September 25, 2007
Completion Date: December 31, 2008 Final Report
Funding Agency: Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, $106,940
Project Summary: Technologies supported and advanced by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 999 technologies) funding are expected to increase US natural gas and oil production while lowering production costs. The goal of this project is to develop a model that will facilitate a national regional economic analysis of the impacts of offsetting imports by increasing domestic natural gas and oil production in areas likely to be impacted by EPAct 999 technologies. Ultimately, this project is aimed at capturing the economic impacts of industry-based activity associated with converting new and existing reserves into production and moving this product to the point of refinement or processing. The incremental value of these activities is the net value of these domestic production activities less the value of import-related activities within the U.S.
Models of Energy Futures and NETL’s Local/Regional Economic and Environmental Impact
Researchers: Randall W. Jackson (PI) and Christa Jensen, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University; David Martinelli, Civil & Environmental Engineering, West Virginia University; Carnegie Mellon University
Start Date: August 18, 2006
Completion Date: July 31, 2007 Final Report
Funding Agency: Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, $74,995
Project Summary: This project was intended to provide a means for (1) regularly estimating the economic benefits that NETL employment and funding has on the state economy in terms of job creation and (2) identifying the more extensive state-level benefits from NETL research and energy industry improvements in the form of reduced costs and environmental impacts. In future years, the project work could develop means for quantifying the benefits associated with NETL research results and energy industry improvements. The intent is to develop a methodology that can be used by NETL and its partner research universities for continuing impact assessments and to provide guidance in decision making with respect to research investments. The project involved researchers at Carnegie Mellon and West Virginia Universities as well as personnel from NETL.
Constructing Interregional Commodity-Industry Accounts for US States
Researchers: Randall W. Jackson (PI) and Yasuhide Okuyama, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University
Start Date: August 1, 2003
Completion Date: January 31, 2005
Funding Agency: National Science Foundation, $99,994
Project Summary: Various mechanisms link the fortunes of regional economies to one another. These linkages can be political, social, and economic, and can involve not only flows of information but also flows of goods and services (commodities). Through the exchange of information and commodities (interregional trade), economic impulses are transmitted throughout the regions in an economic system. Hence, economic growth in one region can stimulate other regional economies, and likewise, downturns in the economy of one region can have negative impacts on other interdependent regions. Understanding the nature of these interregional linkages can be enhanced by providing a formal representation of information and commodity flows among regions. This project will provide such a representation in the form of interregional trades of commodities among US states, delineating both industry and institutional origins and destinations. The project focuses on the estimation of interstate exchanges of commodities, leaving the estimation of interregional factor flows and interregional inter-institutional flows as avenues for future research. Information primarily from two sources is used in estimating the trade flows. The first is a commercially available dataset that enumerates intraregional commodity, factor and institutional flows, and the second is publicly available transportation shipment data from the Commodity Flow Survey (CFS) conducted by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Because disclosure rules and statistical reliability problems make it impossible to use the unmodified CFS data, the project uses a three-phase method to generate an interregional commodity flow accounting framework that is consistent with published national data. First, spatial regularities within the CFS data are estimated econometrically. Optimization techniques are then applied to estimate gross interregional flows by commodity. Lastly, the structure of these relationships is used to map the intraregional accounts to a consistent multiregional system. The interregional database that results from this project will provide a foundation for a wide variety of analytical research advancing knowledge and understanding of the US state and interstate economic system. Analyses that will flow from this database include studies of economic structure and structural change, and the identification of key industry sectors and critical interstate linkages by state. The database will find use as the foundation of a range of extended models formulated specifically to analyze the economic impacts of various policies, including those that focus on trade, transportation infrastructure, and economic development.
An Analysis of Industry Clusters Related to the Advent of Thin Slab Casting
Researchers: Randall W. Jackson (PI), Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University
Start Date: November 1, 2002
Completion Date: January 31, 2005
Funding Agency: Sloan Foundation, in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh, Center for Industry Studies, $83,719
Project Summary: The Regional Research Institute will conduct research on the effects of changes in steel production technology on regional economies and regional economic development. The research is a comparative analysis of interindustry linkages based on the clustering activity associated with steel minimills. This research will use the advent of the new thin-slab casting technology in the American steel industry to enhance understanding of the relationship between industry clusters that have developed around steel minimills and firm competitiveness. RRI researchers will investigate industry clustering and its effects on regional economies. The analysis will be based on qualitative and quantitative data, gathered on plant visits, that should bring valuable evidence to bear on the nature of the economies that accrue to individual plants in an industry as that industry expands. Understanding these economies and the way they develop can translate into cost competitiveness and strategic advantage for firms. Knowledge of the ways in which industry clusters are developing around new steel sites can provide useful information for regional development agencies and government offices. This research takes advantage of a unique opportunity for comparative analysis that can be used to better understand the ways in which regions grow and develop.
Economic Impacts of Proposed LNG Facility Expansion and Associated Pipeline
Researchers: Randall Jackson (PI)
Start Date: May 28, 2004
Completion Date: June 1, 2005
Funding Agency: Dominion Transmission, $23,150
Project Summary: Dominion Cove Point LNG, LP, a company in the Dominion Transmission, Inc. family, “will ask the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve an increase in the plant’s daily output capacity.” Upon approval, Dominion Cove Point would expend its pipeline and two compressor stations in central Pennsylvania to move natural gas to customers throughout the Northeast. The RRI has been asked to estimate the economic impacts on the affected Pennsylvania counties of the pipeline and compressor station construction, operation and maintenance.
Analysis of Lifeline Damages and Economic Impacts of an Earthquake: Development of an Integrated Economic-Engineering Assessment Model
Researchers: Yasuhide Okuyama (PI), Regional Research Institute, West Virginia, in collaboration with Dr. Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL) at the University of Illinois, and the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (CREIPI), Japan
Start Date: September 1, 2002
Completion Date: June 30, 2004
Funding Agency: National Science Foundation, $34,350
Project Summary: Recent major earthquakes in urban areas throughout the world (for example, Northridge, CA, 1994: Kobe, Japan, 1995: and Taipei, Taiwan, 1999) have re-emphasized how intense and significant the damages and impacts of a major earthquake could become. An earthquake in an urban area not only will bring the physical damages to the lifelines, such as electric power, water, transportation networks, and to the buildings and houses, but also will cause the business interruptions that may lead to further economic impacts to the area. In addition, the economic impacts of an earthquake would spread over to other regions and even to other countries through economic interactions, i.e. domestic and international trades. The estimation of these economic impacts is very important for both justifying the policy to retrofit (reinforce) existing structures to minimize the physical damages, such as transportation facilities and lifelines, and providing useful information to the emergency management process after an earthquake. The objectives of this research project are to investigate the economic impacts of a major earthquake in an urban area and to analyze the relationship between the recovery activities on lifeline damages and the mitigation of the economic impacts. In this project, first, a lifeline network engineering model and a set of economic models will be constructed separately. Once completed, an integrated economic-engineering model will be developed for connecting the physical damage data from the engineering model with the estimation of the economic impacts by the economic models, in order to simulate recovery activities and its effects to a broad range of economic activities. Findings from the project can respond to some important modeling issues to integrate engineering model with economic assessment models. By doing so, the project will also contribute some perspective to aid in the formulation of retrofit policy for the lifeline system and of recovery and reconstruction plans after an earthquake. The project is being carried out by the collaboration of U.S. and Japanese researchers to connect and integrate each other’s knowledge and skills in economic and engineering modeling, respectively. Moreover, the construction of a modeling scheme will enable researchers to compare the countermeasures against earthquakes in the U.S. and Japan.