CREATE Prosperity Lab

The CREATE Prosperity Research Lab is a network of scholars from across the country working to create and curate a body of research that examines the fundamental determinants of shared economic prosperity centered around the following research initiatives…

Academic Collaborations in Pursuit of Shared Prosperity

  • Dozens of researchers and practitioners from across UNC Chapel Hill’s campus have built a community of common purpose, collectively working to close what we call the “prosperity gap”. Members of this collaborative work on a myriad of similar and related issues, including: closing the racial wealth and income gaps, addressing the rural-urban divide, improving health in underserved communities, increasing access to high quality education, and ultimately creating greater prosperity for all.
  • The collaborative is currently developing initiatives–within the university’s core mission of research, curriculum, and outreach–to help re-envision our society. We believe faculty, students and staff can research, design, debate, and promulgate the future systems that will elevate humanity and protect people and communities from the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. How we rebuild not only determines the fate of those being crushed by COVID-19, but also how we will respond to future catastrophes including hurricanes, climate change, and even poverty itself.


Advancing Economic Growth

  • CREATE seeks to explicitly examine how many factors and polices come together to form highly effective and durable outcomes. We believe that responsible and accountable government is a necessary ingredient for growth. Government is able to act in important areas beyond the reach of individuals and private sector business. However, many state and local governments default to traditional incentive packages which are known to be inefficient development tools in most cases.
  • CREATE seeks to answer specific fundamental questions through this work, including:
    • How do interactions between federal, state and local government policies determine growth at the local level?
    • How can policymakers customize optimal mixes of policies and incentives that are tailored to specific objectives (e.g., communities and industries)?
    • How do we most accurately measure development spending ROI when benefits from optimal programs persist long into the future?.

The Character of Place

  • The fundamental drivers of economic prosperity remain elusive. This work builds on joint projects with the National Science Foundation and the Kauffman Foundation. Essential to building solutions for broadly shared growth is understanding how business and a labor force of individual workers evolve together to generate business activity in specific locations. The primary goal of this research is a new model of place-based economic development that centers on individuals agents with long-term non-pecuniary attachments to places. This work considers the construction and adaptation of resources to generate private sector productivity growth.
  • PLACE (PLatform for Advancing Community Economies) database aggregates firm-level data for studying regional entrepreneurial ecosystems.


Data Analytics Initiatives

  • Essential to our research efforts is collecting the data that allows us to do our analysis. Our strategy revolves around using the State of North Carolina as a test bed for empirical analysis and information creation that can be extended to other states. We are currently expanding current data initiatives and launching new ones, including:
    • PLACE (PLatform for Advancing Community Economies) database aggregates firm-level data for studying regional entrepreneurial ecosystems.
    • IDEA (Innovative Data for Economic Analysis) utilizes alternative methods for generating information from digital data sources, public records, mobile/satellite data, etc.
    • Homegrown Tools tells the stories of small towns that have worked to stimulate private investment and job creation.

Education Initiatives

  • We are committed to educating students and the broader community about shared prosperity, from experiential learning to traditional curriculum.
  • Students are central to our work. All of our research initiatives involve undergraduate and graduates students from North Carolina colleges and universities. Students approach this work form a broad range of disciplines including: business, government, planning, public policy, computer science, engineering, law and design.
  • Coursework is delivered by faculty lab members in business, economics and public policy areas on topics such as business development, entrepreneurship, and business policy.
  • Case studies based on the business and economic development projects from NCGrowth and SmartUp are distributed through our website and other outlets.

Academic Conferences

  • Black Communities: The Black Communities Conference is a vibrant and uniquely important gathering featuring panel discussions, local tours, film screenings, workshops, keynotes, and more. Our core mission is to foster collaboration among Black communities and universities for the purpose of enhancing Black community life and furthering the understanding of Black communities.
  • Rural Renaissance: Many of the most beautiful parts of our county are in rural areas. We believe rural communities are poised for growth, but there remain some challenges that need to be overcome in order to prepare rural areas to really thrive—namely, access to broadband, good healthcare, finance, good education, and adequate housing. These research workshops bring together top researchers to identify solutions.
  • Regional Inequality in Europe and the United States: When the Berlin wall came down in November 1989, East and West Germany experienced rates of economic inequality similar to the rates currently experienced between different places in the U.S. In the thirty years since the wall fell, the income gap between East & West Germany has narrowed. This conference examines, What lessons can the U.S. learn from Germany’s efforts to address inequalities between East and West Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall?
  • Closing the Wealth Gap: The most important economic challenge of our time is the large, and growing, wealth gap. Increasing income disparities and declining opportunities have diminished America’s middle class. This event covers a range of topics, including consequences of wealth inequities in America, the role of investors and financial institutions in closing the wealth gap, practices of other countries where these disparities are lower, and solutions to addressing this issue.

CREATE Knowledge

Learning what works and teaching it!