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F. Larry Leistritz, Published October 21 2009

Centers of Excellence program very successful

Last year, I had the opportunity to perform an economic-impact analysis of the North Dakota Centers of Excellence program. The analysis was based on data for 2007. The results of the analysis were very encouraging.

Although only two of the centers were fully operational in 2007, these two (University of North Dakota Center for Innovation and North Dakota State University Technology Incubator) had already demonstrated substantial economic contributions.

The two centers accounted for 233 direct jobs (center staff plus tenants) and a payroll of $10.7 million. As the other centers become fully established and partner facilities are developed, the program’s economic contribution should increase considerably.

Although many of the centers are still being developed, the program has already demonstrated the ability to attract private sector partners and to leverage state funding. A total of 107 private sector partners were participating and the centers had attracted $100 million in private sector and federal resources to leverage $25 million of state funding.

As the research, development and commercialization activities of the centers advance, their economic contribution can be expected to grow substantially, leading to many attractive employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for North Dakota residents.

Leistritz is a professor of economics at North Dakota State University.