ImpactPHL, a capital initiative of Ben Franklin Technology Partners, focuses on connecting investors, financial intermediaries, and financial advisors with resources to align capital for positive impact. ImpactPHL is celebrating its 5th anniversary and to help share its story of influence, developed a case study analysis to highlight the performance and the impact of its EDA-supported ImpactPHL Ventures fund. ESI was hired to analyze survey results, conduct stakeholder interviews, and help develop case studies for the ImpactPHL Report.
Higher education is a critical contributor to the US economy and culture, attracting billions of international talents every year. The market size of higher education in the US is roughly $580 billion and 2.6% of US GDP. International students are 4% of the total student population, yet they bring in $41 billion to the economy, accounting for 7% of the market while creating and supporting nearly 460k jobs in 2019. Federal and state funding have been substantial— 3.98 trillion and 78 million respectively in 2017– in supporting the operation of public college and universities through e.g., research funding and financial aid. However, international students often bring in their own funds. Most international students (62%) came to the country with major funds from sources outside of the nation, including those from personal earning, family, home government, and universities.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has unavoidably created a shock within higher education, especially for international students. Most institutions closed their campuses and moved their courses online while navigating varying safety and health standards, as well as taking on increased technical and organizational challenges. While executive orders, detrimental regulatory actions and xenophobic rhetoric from the US government prevailed, in addition, international students have had to deal with issues such as travel restrictions, reduced visa services, and delay or suspension of test scores required for application, to hate speech that is emotionally devastating. Consequently, despite that most schools have been working hard to update protocols and make digital transitions, there was an overall drop in international student economic value in two decades evaluated by NAFTA. As international students search for new opportunities, more than 42k jobs and $1.8 billion are lost in the economy. One may recall that, meanwhile, the State has also been struggling to provide enough funding for public colleges and universities since the Great Recession in 2008.
So how are higher education institutions coping with the shock of the pandemic and the shadow of the Great Recession? Nationally, the tuition has been raised by $2,484 annually between 2008 and 2017 per students to mitigate the lack of government funding. Higher education institutions, surveyed by IEE during the pandemic, have been supportive to students by offering:
- Options for independent or remote study;
- Options to take absence and resume study in the next quarter/semester;
- Options to take classes online;
- Options to study abroad;
- Friendly protocols for recruitment, e.g., extended application period, waived GRE, virtual events tailored to local recruitment, etc.
One prominent example is Wellesley College which offers remote classes in both partner school campuses, and foreign locations for study abroad. Working with Fudan University in Shanghai, China, Wellesley offer admitted Chinese students remote classes as well as courses prepared by Fudan. Wellesley also offers weeks-long study/research abroad programs, where students can learn from the best in local universities but also take classes with Wellesley through virtual portal.
US higher education institutions are positive and strategic about reopening and committed to internationalization. An overwhelming majority of institutions have decided to bring students back to campus for Fall 2021, however, each institution has its own decision to make on how to safely do so. Some institutions have mandated vaccination (e.g., Cornell University in New York, St-Edward’s University in Texas), while others strongly recommend vaccination (e.g., Pennsylvania State University, Harvard University in Massachusetts). Students who have already moved back into student housing are asked to be frequently tested, e.g., University of Illinois, Champaign offers free tests at the campus twice a week. A recent article published by Nature has also highlighted a potential in internationalization: that international research collaboration contributes significantly to new discoveries, that a good partnership starts often in face-to-face, and side-by-side interaction.
So how can higher education institutions stay competitive in the post-COVID world? ESI and ANBOUND specialize in thought leadership for universities and higher education institutions. Though their primary mission is education, research, and care, universities and hospitals must express the economic impact they represent as major employers, procurers of goods and services, initiators of capital projects, and magnets for students/patients/visitors. ESI helps its institutional clients articulate those impacts and reinforce that these economic impacts occur because of a focus on education, research, and care, which in addition to supporting jobs and tax revenues today also produce long-term regional economic competitiveness.
August 9, 2021 (Philadelphia, PA) – Econsult Solutions, Inc. (ESI) and ThoughtLab today announced new initiatives to build on the success of their recently concluded five-year joint venture, ESI ThoughtLab.
Established in July 2016, ESI ThoughtLab provided evidence-based thought leadership to examine the latest digital, economic, and social trends and their impact on companies, industries, and cities around the world. Each organization will focus on key initiatives to reinforce their market positioning as leaders in urban research.
ThoughtLab’s expanded business strategy
As part of its new strategy, ThoughtLab will build on its ability to deliver evidence-based thought leadership on cities through a mix of multi-sponsored programs, tailored research, virtual and in-person meetings, and social media and content marketing channels. ThoughtLab has entered into alliance partnerships with other leaders in field, including Hatch Urban Solutions for global economic, industry, engineering, and infrastructure analysis; City Age, for innovative digital and in-person events; and Smart Cities World, for a world-class platform for sharing ideas on urban challenges. ThoughtLab will maintain its highly respected, annual smart city thought leadership program with the upcoming launch of its next initiative: Building a RoadMap to Smart Cities 4.0: How cities plan to achieve their future social, environmental, and economic goals.
ThoughtLab is also expanding in other parts of its business. It has extended its global network of economists, editors, and industry analysts. It has also established partnerships with Content Marketing Partners, Fintech B2B Marketing, and Digital Wealth Week to help drive content marketing and social media, as well as Ergo Editorial to provide high-quality editorial support.
“Companies need to rethink thought leadership to build demand for their products and services in today’s digital-first world,” said Lou Celi, CEO and founder of ThoughtLab. To be effective, thought leadership must be truly visionary, evidence-based, and actionable. It must be made accessible through a 360-degree blend of compelling editorial formats, analytical tools, and marketing channels. And most importantly, it requires working with the best talent across disciplines. ThoughtLab plans to take its thought leadership on cities, business, and financial markets to this higher standard of excellence.”
ESI launches Center for the Future of Cities
ESI’s new thought leadership initiative, ESI Center for the Future of Cities, will bring together ESI experts in urban economics, policy, and strategy to craft new evidence-based research on the most important issues facing cities, and to provide consulting services for public- and private-sector organizations working in urban settings.
“We are eager to marshal our analytical capability and practical experience to help envision what the future of cities should be and to help make that future happen,” stated Lee Huang, ESI co-president. “We are appreciative of the five years we were able to work with ThoughtLab. It will be exciting to see how our two firms will build from that to continue to do cutting-edge thought leadership research through our respective initiatives and to work together where the opportunity arises.”
Grounds For Sculpture (GFS) is a 42-acre sculpture park, museum, and arboretum founded on the site of the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds. It contemplated a ceramics studio that would offer classes, provide workspace for artists, and strengthen its ability to serve as a meeting and event site. It desired to assess the feasibility of such a venture, from the standpoint of market demand, competitive landscape, appropriate programming and pricing, and financial ramifications.
Econsult Solutions, Inc. (ESI) was hired by Grounds for Sculpture (GFS) to produce a feasibility analysis component in support of GFS’s proposed ceramics studio. ESI provided a mission framework reference guide, along with a customer archetype and competitor landscape analysis, as well as an interactive pro forma model and a case-making report.
GFS’s proposed ceramics studio held great promise for helping GFS to fulfill its core mission and to extend its offerings to new audiences. A high-level analysis of selected customer types and nearby competitors yielded three areas of particular promise, including children/schools, seniors/facilities and events.
ESI was retained by Team Pennsylvania to update the 2018 report “Pennsylvania Agriculture: A Look at the Economic Impact and Future Trends.” ESI provided updated numbers on Pennsylvania’s farming sector and offered further insights into why these changes may be occurring. It also takes a close look at the 2019 Pennsylvania Farm Bill, at national trends in the agricultural industry, and on the impacts of broader events, including the COVID-19 pandemic and continued impacts from climate change, to present a full picture of Pennsylvania’s agricultural industry today.
ESI conducted various analyses of the many subsectors of the agricultural industry of Pennsylvania. Additionally, ESI examined how the new bill might impact the several sectors of the agricultural industry within Pennsylvania and generate spillover effects which might be beneficial for the local economy. Lastly, ESI provided policy recommendations and adjustments on how the sector can perform more efficiently
The Equitable Wilmington Collaborative received a three-year, $4 million investment through JPMorgan Chase’s Partnerships for Raising Opportunity in Neighborhoods (PRO Neighborhoods) program. Funds from this investment support the redevelopment of vacant and blighted homes, small business support, and the development of community facilities.
The Collaborative’s three members are Cinnaire, NCALL Loan Fund, and True Access Capital, all Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) with a long track record of lifting up communities underserved by traditional lending institutions. The Collaborative is focused on three neighborhoods in Wilmington – Westside/West Center City, Eastside, and Northeast – and established six core goals and targets.
This report served as a snapshot in time, to take stock of what has been in 2020, in order to prepare for what would be in 2021. By understanding the overall context of Equitable Wilmington Collaborative’s three focus neighborhoods, as well as the early work that the Collaborative has done, this represented a framework for tracking continued progress over time. One of the purposes of this series of white papers is to take these snapshots of Wilmington’s demographic and economic data, with the first year’s report representing a baseline upon which future ones will compare to see where progress is being made.