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That College Campus In Your Community is a Magnet for Economic Recovery
May 05, 2010
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Recovery is something  an emergency managers knows a lot about.  It's one of the four phases of emergency management and, these days, recovery planning includes continuity planning - maintaining the viability of the institution itself, i.e.: keeping the government governing, the business open for business, and the campus delivering academics and conducting research.

This kind of continuity planning hasn't always been thought of as part of an emergency manager's job - but neither has creating a good town-gown relationship.

In an economic crisis like this one, the symbiotic relationship in a town-gown relationship is crystal clear:  The campus and the community depend on each other for their economic viability.

For example, UC Davis (my campus) is the largest employer in the Sacramento region (following the state government), generates 34,000 jobs in the Sacramento region alone, and contributes at least $1.6 billion to the Sacramento economy annually.  These are 2001-02 numbers (the latest one available) but you get the idea.  Higher education campuses are vital to a community's economic health.

In fact, if you take a look at the most recent Moodys Economic.com report and its 'Recovery Status Map' that tracks the recovery status of communities around the U.S., you'll see that "small cities, which have a disporportionate share of factories, hospitals and universities, are more likely than large ones to be in a growth mode."

Communities like:
  • Grand Forks, where North Dakota University "provides a stabale source of employment."
  • State College, where "Penn State is an anchor employee, adding long-term stability to the local economy."
  • Auburn, where Alabama State has a "stable presence and higher than average educational attainment."
  • Lexington, where Kentucky State provides the "stable presence of a large university."
  • Eugene, where the "Univeisty of Oregon provides steady consumer demand and supplies skilled workers to local businesses."
So ... how much of my job (as an emergency manager) is really continuity plananing?  I'm going to argue it is really 100% of my job.  The bottom line is ensuring the continuity of my campus.  I can't do that if the community can't survive and the community can't survive if the campus doesn't.

I'd argue that understanding the value and necessity of business/academic/operational continuiity is quickly becoming the most important part of an emergency manager's job.

AND that the emergency manager who thinks their job stops with preparedness and/or response are becoming as obselete as trickle-down economics.


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