IC2 Institute at UT Austin is studying communities in Texas and Louisiana to enhance community economic recovery efforts post COVID-19

Alice Echo News Journal

For over 40 years the IC2 Institute at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) has sought to solve complex problems in society. The Institute has weathered two economic shocks with the energy crisis in the 1970’s and the oil bust in the 1980’s. Today, we are facing the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis, coupled with a historic drop in oil prices that shook the Permian Basin in West Texas. In early April, IC2 Executive Director, Dr. Art Markman, called upon researchers and practitioners across the UT campus to form an economic recovery taskforce to respond to the economic impacts of the COVID- 19 crisis.

A call was put out to communities around the state to join the Regional Economic Recovery project and the response was remarkable. Seventy community leaders from local economic development organizations, chambers of commerce, and city government offices responded. Through interviews and surveys, IC2 employees will study 63 communities as part of the Regional Economic Recovery project, 60 in Texas and 3 in Louisiana. Combined with two other programs occurring simultaneously at IC2, 83 communities signed up to work together to understand the impacts of the COVID crisis on their community, return to their values, and develop a path forward towards economic resiliency.

Dr. Greg Pogue, Deputy Executive Director at the IC2 Institute, describes the importance of understanding community values and working together like this:

“In smaller cities and communities, agreement and partnership are essential if leadership and funding can be coalesced. Community values are rallying points for agreement and collaboration. Building a values-based economic development plan promotes participation, builds momentum and produces a group 'win' leading to not just economic growth, but enhancement of quality of life and personal prosperity.”

IC2 is engaging communities through three projects and programs: the Home to Texas program, the sustainable development in West Texas research project, and the Regional Economic Recovery project. These collaborations will empower small and remote communities to rethink economic development in their communities.

View this interactive Google map or this list to see which communities the IC2 Institute is working with this summer.

This summer, IC2 will study 83 communities through interviews and surveys to help those communities assess the resources they have available to relaunch their economic development efforts. In the fall, this process will be followed by a new program called Regional XLR8 that will provide community leaders with information and mentorship to foster wider collaboration among communities and to identify ways that small communities might help fill gaps in the domestic supply chain.

Funding for the Regional Economic Recovery studies in Texas came from IC2 research funds. The Louisiana Bucket Brigade generously provided funding to study three communities in Louisiana.

The IC2 Institute drives research and programming through collaborative partnerships that elicit breakthrough learning and new models of growth. The knowledge, tools, and relationships supported by IC2 are designed to create more prosperous, adaptable, diverse, and resilient communities through the study and development of business ecosystems.

Alice Echo News Journal