CREC Internship Profile: Scott Fox
Each year, the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) hires a number of interns who help the organization during the busy summer period. Each is offered an opportunity to learn how the organization helps municipalities, states, and regions respond to changes in local job markets; and CREC specifically works with undergraduate and graduate students who need academic credit. Most internships attract students who major in economics, public policy / administration, urban planning, and governmental affairs. As part of a series on student learning, CREC looks back on conversations with interns who discussed their passion for helping regional competitiveness.
Intern name: Scott Fox
Graduate Program: Master’s of Urban Planning
School: University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
1. What brought you to CREC?
I joined CREC after applying to a posting placed by my department’s career counselor. I wanted to work for an organization that used research to both find sustainable and unique ways to improve local economies and review which government programs have been effective at maintaining economic growth.
2. What professional passions have you been able to further grow while interning at CREC?
While interning at CREC, I have been able to nurture my passion for investigating information to help determine what’s the best course of action as I hope to do so in my future work in urban planning and policy. This past summer, I learned how to more effectively organize and comprehend a large volume of demographic data tables, legislative bill rolls, and budget lines to find a unique and coherent narrative that explains the results of adopting a certain policy. Helping to maintain the Cost of Living Index and the State Business Incentives Database also gave me the opportunity to learn how to better share data with the public online in clear, readable formats from working in CREC’s online databases.
3. As you’ve collected on information for our State Business Incentives database, you’ve had the chance to interact with economists from around the country. Tell us about that experience.
To help maintain the State Incentives Database, I was responsible for the updates made for several U.S. states that varied in size and economic base. Interacting with economists affiliated with state governments gave me the opportunity to learn first-hand how state agencies function and use economic information to design policy.
4. What have you learned about as you have worked on the Cost of Living Index?
While working on the Cost of Living Index, I learned about how such an influential marker of the economy is developed through the unlikely partnership of hundreds of helpful volunteers across the country and a small but very hard-working office in Arlington. I also gained more experience with aggregating large sets of data to determine an index. While inputting data and contacting businesses in a variety of metro areas, I felt like I had looked behind the curtain during the Wizard of Oz.
5. Tell us about the research you have been able to do on Grand Rapids, Mich.?
CREC’s project for Kellogg Foundation focuses on to pulling U.S. Census data on several low-income Grand Rapids, Mich., neighborhoods. The foundation strives to increase employment opportunities for residents inside these communities. My small-scale focus on Census tracts and neighborhoods made this my favorite part of my internship. I strongly appreciated how the numbers I analyzed could help determine precise plans of actions for each of the communities of focus.