New director aims to strengthen center's role in community
HUNTINGTON -- Right in downtown Huntington there is a center dedicated to providing economic, policy and financial research and a variety of other services to the region -- and that center just brought in a new leader who plans to help it continue to prosper just like the businesses it works with.
Jennifer Shand, Ph.D., recently took on the role of director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Marshall University, which falls under the umbrella of the Nick J. Rahall, II Appalachian Transportation Institute (RTI). She said she believes her ability to effectively communicate with business owners and leaders will be a valuable asset to CBER.
"I like to get to know people, to know what it is they are doing and make connections," Shand said. "I think sometimes researchers get too bogged down in the technique. Yes, there's power in doing the best analysis you can and make sure everything is completely correct in the academic sense, but if we can't present that in a way people can understand and digest then the information just goes into a paper and stays there."
CBER is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to being a resource for information. Shand said she is excited to help lead a top-notch research center and develop business and economy in West Virginia and the Tri-State.
The center focuses on energy, education, health, regional development and economics -- all of which are vital to Huntington and the region's growth, Shand said.
"Our most well-developed program areas are energy and national resources economics and demographics," Shand said. "We are trying to explore more how we can reach out to, particularly, the local community and local business. That's a relationship we look to really strengthen."
Shand said through her previous roles at the Economic Center at the University of Cincinnati and Virginia Tech's Office of Economic Development she became aware of CBER and Marshall University. When the opportunity presented itself to take the role of director in Huntington, she said she felt it would be a great fit -- and so far it has been.
Frank Betz, executive director and CEO of RTI and CBER, said the organization is honored to have Shand join the team.
"Her education, as well as her experience in the realms of regional economics and economic development will add tremendous value to our clients, partners and stakeholders," Betz said. "I look forward to working with her in continuing the CBER tradition of quality research and independent analysis to aid economic decision making in the region."
Shand said even in the small amount of time she has been in Huntington she has grown to love the city and surrounding region. She said she looks forward to helping expand business and economic development in her new community.
Shand received her Ph.D. in economics from The Ohio State University, with a specialization in international econimics and regional development.
She received her master's in economics from Miami University of Ohio and her bachelor's in economics and international affairs from James Madison University.
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