Answering FAQs About What We Do

While we have gained a number of new followers in recent months, not everyone may know what, exactly, the Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) does. Answers to the following frequently asked questions about our organization provide more insight about our unique organization.

What does the BBER do, exactly?

The BBER is a research arm of the Labovitz School of Business and Economics at UMD. Our department conducts funded research projects for external clients, including federal, state, private, nonprofit, as well as grant-funded research.

So, can you help me start my business?

Unlike many economic development agencies in the region, the BBER’s primary focus is not on serving small business owners but rather on analyzing and interpreting economic trends happening at the regional level.

Consequently, most of our clients are larger government, industry, or nonprofit entities with a regional focus. Recent clients include Minnesota Sea Grant, the Canadian Consulate General of Minneapolis, the Canadian Biofuels Association, APEX, the National Parks Service, and the Iron Mining Association.

You help put on the Regional Economic Indicators Forum (REIF), right?

Yes, the REIF is one of the BBER’s longest-running and most high-profile projects. We lead and are a part of the team of university researchers (that also includes faculty from the College of St. Scholastica and the University of Wisconsin-Superior) and coordinate the student presentations that occur before each keynote speaker. We also prepare the executive summary brochure that is distributed at each event, highlighting recent trends in the local economy.

How long has the BBER been around?

The BBER was first founded in the early 1960s in response to a legislative effort to increase data collection in the Northeast part of the state, where the economy was struggling and where economic trends did not always follow statewide trends. The result was the Duluth Business Index, published monthly by the BBER.

Sixty years later, the DBI is no longer published, but the BBER still conducts research to help increase awareness and understanding of the regional economy.

How do you choose the projects you work on?

Most often, clients approach us with a project idea. Other times, a faculty member or partner who is working on a project that includes some type of applied economic research will reach out to us for help. Occasionally, we come across an RFP or grant opportunity that aligns well with our expertise. This varied client base is why we end up working on such a wide variety of projects! A majority of our projects are posted to the University of Minnesota's Digital Conservancy

I’m a UMD student. Can I work for the BBER?

Quite possibly, yes! The BBER consists of Director Monica Haynes, Editor/Writer Gina Grensing, and a small team of undergraduate student researchers. Past student researchers have majored in economics, finance, financial markets, statistics, political science, and even engineering. Some of our former graduates have gone on to pursue advanced degrees or work in economics, finance, or other analytical fields. We typically hire new students each summer and occasionally at other times of the year. 

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