Economic Development News & Insight


The Higher ED Blog: Best of 2015

Michelle Madden / December 21, 2015

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The Higher ED Blog: Best of 2015

It’s been a big year for the Higher ED Blog. We published 30 articles (not including this one) on green economy, business incubation, rural broadband, inland ports, and many more topics. Back in June, I attended EDCO’s Women in Economic Development event and shared the unique challenges women face in this field. In September, we featured a mini-series on downtown revitalization called Onward and Upward. Later in the fall, we tackled current affairs with articles like Counting matters and Immigrant attraction to small and rural centres. Throughout the year, we scaled the ivory tower to report the latest in economic development research in our (now quarterly) Research Roundups.

There were lots of highlights, but which articles captured the most attention? Which were your favourites?  Using the simple metric of total pageviews, here are the top 5 articles for 2015. Read them again, or catch up on what you’ve missed.

#5 Nine ways economic developers can use social media

Michelle Madden, March 2015

Sara Chamberlain focused her Year 3 paper on a very modern question: how can economic developers use social media? For Higher ED, I focused on the nine strategies she recommended, which include reputation management, workforce attraction, and business retention and expansion. This blog will definitely inspire you to step up your social media game!

#4 How to make community engagement work in your community

Brittany Bruce, Ryan Lipcsei and Tara Vinodrai, April 2015

In this article, Brittany, Ryan, and Tara summarize the highlights of a session held during the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO)’s annual conference. The session brought together economic developers to discuss barriers and best practices in community engagement. Four themes emerged and the article breaks down the lessons and tools for each.

#3 Anatomy of business incubation in Canada

Tara Vinodrai, April 2015

Tara Vinodrai captured the essence of Nancy Huether’s major research paper, The Business Incubator Landscape: A Canadian Perspective, for this blog.  Nancy scoured the web and other sources to determine the current state of business incubation programs and initiatives across Canada. She built a database with her findings and was able to report back six interesting revelations.

#2 What’s new in economic development research (summer 2015 edition)

Michelle Madden, August 2015

This was the second edition of what I’m now calling the Research Roundup. It features short summaries of four articles related to economic development that appeared in recent issues of peer-reviewed journals. The articles featured new research on cluster-based development policy, specialization vs diversification, university-industry collaboration in rural economies, and resident attraction to rural areas.

#1 Incubators generate results but still might not be worth the investment

Catherine Oosterbaan, January 2015

Cathy’s article on incubators was far-and-away the top viewed Higher ED article of the year, perhaps because it has controversial findings. Incubators have been hot in economic development circles for a few years now, and Cathy dared to question their value. No single study can make definitive conclusions on whether incubators work or not, but this article is a reminder to think critically before investing in the latest trend.


About the author

Michelle Madden is the editor of Higher ED. She is also the Outreach Manager for the Economic Development Program and a graduate of the LED master’s program.  She has authored a number of the articles in this series on behalf of the students, and has published several of her own blogs on as well. Follow her on Twitter at @michelle_mad.

About the series

Higher ED: Insights for the Next Economy is a platform for students, guest speakers, staff and faculty of the University of Waterloo’s professional and graduate economic development programs to share knowledge with the field at large. The series takes works destined for an academic audience and reworks them into a fresh, easy-to-digest blog article.

Established in 1988, the Local Economic Development program is the only master’s program in Canada devoted solely to local economic development. It offers a balance between theory and practice by combining coursework, a major research paper, an internship, and weekly seminars featuring guest speakers. Students are prepared for careers in local, community, or regional economic development.

The Economic Development Program is a nationally-accredited provider of professional training. It delivers certification programs and seminars that offer a deep understanding of the Canadian context in a convenient block format. Peer learning is combined with informative lectures and practical case studies to provide dynamic instruction that is beneficial for junior and senior-level practitioners.

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