New U of M program to explore transportation policy and economic competitiveness

freightloaderThere’s no dispute that an adequate transportation system is necessary for economic development. What’s unclear, however, is how transportation innovations in fields such as technology and finance can drive growth. Gaining a better understanding of such innovations and their impacts is the purpose of the new Transportation Policy and Economic Competitiveness (TPEC) Program at the University of Minnesota.

The five-year program, managed by the State and Local Policy Program (SLPP) at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, will seek to further define and promote the relationship between transportation and economic development in Minnesota and the region. The program was established in response to a directive from the Minnesota Legislature in its 2013 session; the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is providing funding.

“Minnesota needs this research to better understand how transportation contributes to economic competitiveness,” says Rep. Frank Hornstein, chair of the Minnesota House Transportation Finance Committee.

Rigorous academic research will form the backbone of the program, says Lee Munnich, director of SLPP and TPEC. Research will address three main areas:

  • Innovative transportation finance options
  • Industry clusters
  • Transportation technologies

Research results are intended to help MnDOT and 
its partners engage stakeholders, analyze investments, and approach programming.

In addition to research, the program will undertake other activities producing more rapid results. One task will be compiling data for a Minnesota Transportation Finance Database and updating it each year. Another product will be a white paper about the potential impacts of self-driving vehicle technologies on Minnesota’s economy.

The program will also provide opportunities for students to learn and gain experience. In addition, it will disseminate research results and engage practitioners, other researchers, and the public.

Read the full article in the February issue of Catalyst.

Posted in Economics, Transportation research

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