We at LSBE's Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) are excited about the new year for a few reasons. First, we’ve moved back to campus. The BBER’s new office is located in the Economics Department of the Labovitz School of Business and Economics. We’re looking forward to being able to more easily expand our project partnering capabilities with UMD faculty, as needed, from our campus location.
Second, we have hired two new undergraduate research assistants—Nana Kofi Austin (Kofi) and Jacque Jones. We’ve asked them to share some things about themselves, which you can read below. They join Ben Palmquist, who is continuing as a UGRA with us this spring semester.
Lastly, we’re looking forward to all the exciting economic opportunities that have arisen or are coming about this year. Some we may have a hand in, others we may be watching from the sidelines. But as always, we’re just excited for economic growth.
Happy New Year!
Welcome Kofi and Jacque
Tell us about yourselves
K: I am a senior double majoring in Financial Markets Finance and French Studies and graduating this spring. I was born in Ghana, West Africa, and lived there through high school. In addition to living in Ghana and the U.S., I have also lived in the U.K. Having so many cultural experiences has been very beneficial for me in navigating different aspects of life and my career. I enjoy sailing and rowing; both hobbies I picked up since moving to Duluth. Living here has also introduced me to a newfound fascination for lakes and ships.
J: I’m graduating this spring with a double major in economics and statistics. New Prague, Minnesota, is my hometown. Along with spending time with friends and family, I also enjoy watching or playing just about any sport and being outside whenever I have some free time. And even though they were recently eliminated from playoff contention, I am a huge Minnesota Vikings fan.
What inspired you to apply for the research assistant position?
K: I have always been exposed to economic news and trends yet have never had the opportunity to work with economic data. I am excited to have the opportunity to collect and analyze data and trends and search for existing literature on economic issues pertinent to this region. Exposure to different tools and training, I believe, will serve as a great foundation and set me apart from others in my career.
J: I saw this position as a great place to expand my knowledge of data analytics and learn more about economic data in a professional setting alongside a team. I also saw the ability to gain professional experience while also attending school as a unique opportunity.
If you could research any local economic development topic, what would it be?
K: I would like to learn more about the shipping industry and the impacts it has on Duluth and the Upper Midwest. I would also like to research the local impacts of COVID-19, specifically how employees and business owners have adapted to the challenges of the pandemic.
J: I would like to learn more about the economic impact of COVID-19 moving forward. In my economics classes, we have discussed and researched how COVID has impacted the economy across the world and the United States, but I would be interested in analyzing the impacts of COVID in Minnesota and the Duluth area.
How do you see your position at the BBER helping you achieve your goals after college?
K: I feel that greater exposure to data collection and analysis, two key skills that are necessary for me to have moving forward, will be especially valuable in helping achieve my goals after college.
J: I believe this opportunity at the BBER will give me hands-on experience—whether through surveying, data analysis, or writing—that will provide me with a diverse skill-set to take into my future career. Experiencing these different tasks will help me realize my strengths and weaknesses, thus leading me to become a more well-rounded researcher.