Kenneth E. Poole, Ph.D.Executive Director
In January 2000, Kenneth E. Poole formed an independent non-profit affiliated with George Mason University and C2ER that is focused on developing a stronger understanding of how regional economies can compete effectively in the knowledge-based economy. As part of those efforts, Dr. Poole directs a national nonprofit membership organization (C2ER) serving economic and community development researchers in communities, states, academia, and the private sector. In his capacity of Executive Director, Dr. Poole oversees all program development activities of the organization including the production of the organization's newsletter, annual conference, web site, and publications.
As CEO of the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, Dr. Poole is undertaking organizational development, strategic planning, network building, and technical assistance efforts to foster knowledge-based economic development. Recent projects have involved managing a multi-county regional analysis and strategy process for 12 counties in western North Carolina, implementing a county-wide strategic plan for Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, assisting in facilitating a regional economic strategy for a multi-county region in western Virginia, and developing an operating plan for a two-county development organization on Long Island and Brooklyn. Dr. Poole is also working with the National Association of State Development Agencies (NASDA) and the State Science and Technology Institute (SSTI) to develop a stronger relationship between federal and state partners in the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership program.
Dr. Poole has managed economic development research, analysis, and technical assistance efforts for 21 years. Before joining C2ER, he served as the Director of Domestic Economic Development for NASDA, where he provided technical assistance and research support to state and local economic development professionals. He developed new project opportunities in technology-based economic development, economic and policy research, and the organization of state-based economic development initiatives. One project involved a study of evaluation activities being implemented by state and local economic development programs for the US Economic Development Administration.
On behalf of C2ER, Dr. Poole supervises an on-going national data collection effort, the ACCRA Cost of Living Index and training programs for economic development practitioners, including a national training institute at George Mason University. Dr. Poole also teaches and coordinates training offerings related to impact analysis, research design methods, cluster analysis, benchmarking, targeting, and other regional economic analyses targeted to economic developers.
Dr. Poole holds a Ph.D. in Regional Development Policy from George Mason University, a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) from The American University, and a B.A. in Political Science and Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Sean McNamaraChief Administrative Officer
Sean McNamara serves as Administrative Director, implementing the day-to-day operations of the organization. Sean served for a number of years as a management consultant based in Arlington, Virginia. For the past few years, Sean's career has focused on providing membership and marketing services to associations in the economic development field, including NASDA and the American Association of Enterprise Zones. He holds an MFA from Rhode Island School of Design in architectural design and fine arts.
Ronald KellyDirector, Workforce Research and Training
Ronald Kelly serves as program manager for the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) and the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER). His duties include working with senior staff to develop and implement training programs for C2ER on the use and analysis of socioeconomic data, preparing and analyzing socioeconomic data, presentations, and reports for clients, as well as coordinating C2ER organizational advocacy efforts on behalf of regional economic development efforts.
Mr. Kelly is assistant project manager for the Arizona Department of Commerce’s LMI Improvement Grant (awarded by ETA). The project entails multiple tasks, including a survey of 10,000 Arizona-based firms to quantify the state’s green employment. In his work with LMI Training Institute, Mr. Kelly has organized, designed and moderated a series of well attended webinars on a variety of relevant LMI topics. Two webinars on the study of the green economy have been posted on the ETA Workforce3One website’s Green Jobs Community; one of these webinars was used as suggested technical assistance material for all LMI Improvement Grantees. Mr. Kelly is also managing the Projections Managing Consortium’s efforts to convert its training to an eLearning format on behalf of the Institute. Playing an integral role in the Institute’s training efforts, Mr. Kelly has assisted in the design of recent training curriculum and conference sessions, and is working with staff on upcoming advanced LMI training coursework, as well as a training course that will focus on the green economy in terms of its implications for LMI staff.
Prior to joining CREC and C2ER, Mr. Kelly served as a Teaching and Research Specialist in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. He also has significant experience in community development finance: serving as a consultant to community development financial institutions seeking federal grant funding, as a community member involved in the founding of a low-income designated credit union in Upstate New York, as a Supervisory Committee member of Alternatives FCU, and as a Financial Analyst for ShoreBank where he served primarily as Fund Advisor to National Community Investment Fund.
Mr. Kelly holds an MRP in City and Regional Planning with a concentration in Economic Development from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Rochester Institute of Technology.
Erol YildirimDirector, New Products
Erol Yildirim is director of data products for the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness and its sister nonprofit, the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) - formerly known as ACCRA - a membership organization of economic development researchers. He serves as the organization's chief economist and also oversees the Center's web development efforts. Before taking over his current role, Mr. Yildirim managed the ACCRA Cost of Living Index project for five years.
Mr. Yildirim has primary responsibility for managing new product development and dissemination activities for C2ER, enhancing the organization's existing data products, managing customer relations with data subscribers and licensees, responding to media inquiries, and staffing C2ER's technical advisory board of eminent academic and government economists.
Mr. Yildirim also designs online surveys customized to individual clients' needs, analyzing the results in a statistical summary. Among his recent accomplishments include the creation of the Historical ACCRA Cost of Living index, the redesign of the ACCRA Cost of Living Index, C2ER, and CREC websites and the creation of the ACCRA Cost of Living Index Web Calculator. Mr. Yildirim also designed and implemented the ACCRA Cost of Living Index Price Collector software - a web based application that allows the data collectors to enter and submit their local data over the web and C2ER staff to review over 100,000 data points in a timely manner. He also developed e-commerce sites for both C2ER and COLI, and created a national searchable database structure for the C2ER State Incentives Database. In addition, Mr. Yildirim participates in other CREC and C2ER consulting assignments and supports the C2ER training and educational program.
Before joining C2ER in 2002, Erol Yildirim worked as a Business Manager at Mason Enterprise Center, Mentor Protégé Program. He supported a Department of Defense program and served as a vehicle and catalyst for building long term business relationships between major US Department of Defense contractors and small disadvantaged businesses.
Erol Yildirim holds a M.A. in Economics from George Mason University. His specialties are Public Finance and Monetary Economics. He also holds a M.A. from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Financial Economics. Erol Yildirim has practical and educational experience in information systems and web development. His programming skills include Visual Basic, Oracle PL/SQL, SPSS, and ASP. He has completed extensive class work toward a doctorate in economics. He serves on the National Advisory Board of National Elder Economic Security Initiative and advises the Bureau of Labor Statistics International Committee. Mr. Yildirim is also fluent in Turkish.
Mark White, Ph.D.Training & Technical Assistance Director
Dr. Mark White is training and technical assistance programs director at the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) and its sister affiliate, the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER). He joined CREC in September 2004 to manage a number of research and technical assistance projects.
Most recently, Dr. White has worked on a variety of projects including a workforce supply and demand study for the North Carolina Workforce Commission and helped facilitating discussions that were intended to lead to policy recommendations addressing the issues raised in that report. He also worked with Arizona's Data Estimates and Projections Taskforce (ADEPT) to support their efforts to improve the states employment and population data. Another recent project involved examining how successful life sciences regions have organized their life sciences development efforts. The goal of the project was to provide a framework for leaders to consider opportunities for expanding the Detroit regional life sciences sector. Over the next year, Dr. White's efforts will be directed toward coordinating and delivering a training curriculum—designed for the US Economic Development Administration—that will strengthen the ability of economic development practitioners to undertake strategic planning.
Other past projects include a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for the Isothermal Planning and Development Commission in Western North Carolina, a Visioning Plan for North Carolina's Eastern Region Partnership, as well as assisting in the implementation of a CEDS focused around Hickory, North Carolina. In addition, he recently completed a comprehensive workforce analysis for the Durham (NC) Workforce Development Board and an assessment of the skills and training needs of the construction trades industry for the Arizona Department of Commerce. Among his current ongoing projects include an assessment of the skills and training needs of the Arizona Solar Power Industry, and a nationwide survey designed to assess the role of Community Colleges in Economic Development. He also coordinates C2ER's research and training programs, including the creation of a national database of local taxes affecting businesses.
Prior to joining the Center, Dr. White served as a post-doctoral research fellow at the National University of Ireland's Centre for Innovation and Structural Change (CISC) in Galway. In that position, he conducted qualitative and quantitative research to assess the regional development consequences of foreign direct investment, particularly as related to investment in internationally-traded services. This research has been published in peer-reviewed journals in the field of regional development and economic geography such as Environment and Planning A, European Urban and Regional Studies and European Planning Studies.
In the process of completing his doctoral work, Dr. White served as an instructor in World Geography and a GIS/Cartographer at the University of Miami (FL). He also served as a business research intern for the Beacon Council—Miami-Dade County's primary economic development organization. Dr. White earned his Ph.D. in International Studies with a focus on economic development from the University of Miami (FL), his M.A. in Geography from the Maxwell School Of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, and his B.A. in Geography at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh.
Dean FrutigerProject Manager, COLI
Dean Frutiger is the COLI Project Manager for the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness and its sister nonprofit, the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) - formerly known as ACCRA - a membership organization of economic development researchers. Mr. Frutiger is a labor relations/labor economics research specialist experienced in economic redevelopment work. At C2ER, his primary responsibility is coordinating and compiling the C2ER Cost of Living Index (COLI). The COLI is a quarterly data collection effort involving about 300 researchers from among C2ER's membership of chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, academic institutions, and regional planning councils. The project is in its 40th year.
Mr. Frutiger coordinates interaction with volunteer data providers from nearly 400 communities and responds to issues raised by subscribers. His primary focus in coordinating the COLI is aimed at improving the quality of data gathered, expanding the coverage of urban places participating. He will also help in developing new product spin-offs from the standard COLI product.
Before joining C2ER, Dean Frutiger was the Manager of Information and Research Services for the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association in Arlington, Virginia. Prior to working at the ELFA, he was the Assistant Director of Research for the Amalgamated Transit Union in Washington, DC. He served on the Labor Research Advisory Council for the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington, DC working on the Occupational Safety and Health and Compensation and Working Conditions subcommittees.
Dean Frutiger holds a M.S. in Labor Relations from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. His areas of study were political economy and research methodology. He also worked for the Political Economy Research Institute in Amherst, Massachusetts conducting economic redevelopment and wage analysis research. He worked on the research staff for the joint Cornell University-UMass-Amherst project "Impact of U.S.-China Trade Relations on Workers, Wages, and Employment" submitted to the U.S.-China Security Review Commission/U.S. Trade Deficit Review Committee. Mr. Frutiger co-authored "Wages, Dignity, and Respect, The Impact of Unionization on Low-Wage Women Workers" with Dr. Stephanie Luce, published by the University of Massachusetts in 2001. He is also the author of "AFL-CIO China Policy: Labor's New Step Forward or the Cold War Revisited?" published in the Fall 2002 edition of Labor Studies Journal. Mr. Frutiger has a Bachelor's degree in American History from Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont.
Wen SunResearch Manager
Wen Sun serves as research analyst for the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) and its sister affiliate, the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER). Her duties include conducting research and analysis on a variety of programs, including data analysis and review for C2ER's ACCRA Cost of Living Index publication. She conducts data reviews, coordinates participant participation, and calculating indices. She also assists in managing and updating website content.
In recent assignments, she has gathered and organized industry and occupational employment data. She also provides research, writing, and web development support for the C2ER newsletter. Prior to joining CREC and C2ER, she was a research assistant for the Department of Economic and Workforce Development at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Ms. Sun received a M.S. in Economic Development from the University of Southern Mississippi and Bachelors of Science degree, majoring in Real Estate Economics at Sichuan Normal University in Chengdu, China. She is fluent in Mandarin.
Spencer AbramsOperations & Event Coordinator
Spencer Abrams joined C2ER in February of 2010 as the organization's Operations Support Specialist. His duties include financial management support, event coordination, coordinating communications, and administrative support. Prior to this, Spencer had a background of 17 years of business and operational management. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communication from Towson University in 1993.