The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research Programing in the Dan River Region of Virginia and New Growth Economic Development Theory

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Virginia Tech

This paper applies New Growth Theory (NGT) to the economic development plan of the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) for the Dan River region. New Growth Theory is summarized into five concepts: knowledge and human capital, technology, flexible production and innovation, and the institutional environment. The IALR program demonstrates this NGT framework. The IALR program seeks to promote growth by attracting exogenous demand for innovation and high tech. Endogenously, the program plans to create an institutional support environment and human capital infrastructure. The New Growth Theory supports the IALR in developing a knowledge based economy.

However, the New Growth Theory has limitations in application for economic development. It assumes that the targeted economy has some physical and social infrastructure. The Dan River region lacks transportation infrastructure and a history of valuing higher education. The New Growth Theory assumes that using knowledge as a factor will insure against diminishing returns. However, growth from high tech is risky and uneven. The IALR program is an example of an under-educated region trying to transform its economy by using high tech. What may happen is an increased gap between the lower and higher income population, with skilled knowledge labor being recruited and the existing human capital not able to keep up with the new skill requirements. Finally, while the Dan River region has a need to work on quality of life aspects, such as living conditions, equity, the environment, health and civic infrastructure, New Growth Theory does not consider these aspects.

new growth theory, rural development, economic development, human capital