IRLEE refocuses effort on economic growth, takes new name


A University of Michigan institute is reviewing its goals and objectives in an effort to foster innovation and create positive economic impact for communities and economies nationwide.

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As part of its reassessment, the Economic Growth Institute replaces the Institute for Research on Labor, Employment and the Economy, a widely recognized leader in economic development, industry support, advanced manufacturing and jobs forecasting.

Paula Sorrell, who joined U-M in January as director of the Economic Growth Institute, is leading the reassessment. Sorrell is responsible for overseeing operations of the institute and directing strategy to guide its growth and enhance its impact on business and society.

She previously served as vice president of entrepreneurship, innovation and venture capital for the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

“We are setting off on a trajectory to grow the institute with a name that represents the important work conducted by our team,” Sorrell said.

“The Economic Growth Institute leverages the university’s expertise, research and technologies to help small- and medium-sized enterprises foster innovation and boost economies across the Midwest,” she added. “And over the next five years, the goal is to expand the institute’s highly successful pilot programs geographically and across multiple sectors.”

The institute has a long history of success. It has:

• Managed 19 federal and state economic development programs over 30 years.

• Provided business and technical support to more than 800 companies, providing project matching funds to most.

• Helped create or preserve more than 52,000 jobs and maintained a 96 percent survival rate of its clients — often companies in distress or at a critical growth point.

• Maintained a database of more than 1,200 experts and service providers.

• Partnered with more than 100 universities nationwide.

• Worked with more than 200 companies in the Midwest launching hundreds of new technical products and increasing revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

• Conducted 23 economic research studies and worked with hundreds of communities to help revitalize their economies.

The Economic Growth Institute reports jointly to the U-M Office of Research and the Office of the Vice President for Government Relations.


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