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Nichola Lowe, interim director at CURS

Nichola Lowe, Ph.D.
Former Interim Director


Lowe’s work focuses on the institutional arrangements that lead to more inclusive forms of urban and regional economic development and specifically, the role that practitioners can play in aligning growth and equity goals.

She conducts research in three related areas of economic development. First, she explores how institutional actors responsible for promoting and financing state and local economic development collaborate in innovative ways to encourage more inclusionary business practices and outcomes. Second, she focuses on the link between innovation and local knowledge, especially the institutional factors that enhance the knowledge contribution of actors traditionally viewed as peripheral to processes of innovation and industrial upgrading. Finally, she examines how emergent labor market institutions shape employer behavior and open up opportunities for displaced and disadvantaged workers to transfer existing and newly acquired skills to more secure and technologically sophisticated work environments. Combined, these three areas of study enable Lowe to understand the conditions under which more inclusionary forms of economic development take shape and draw lessons for scaling institutional action and coordination.

Lowe has received funding support from the National Science Foundation, Kauffman Foundation, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, Institute for Emerging Issues and UNC-Chapel Hill’s Institute for Arts and Humanities, Global Research Institute, Institute for the Study of the Americas and the College of Arts and Science.

Lowe joined UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of City and Regional Planning in 2005 after receiving her Ph.D. in Economic Development and Planning from MIT. She has consulted on projects for the International Labour Organization, Inter-American Development Bank, Bank of the Northeast Brazil, Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, the Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance, the Kenan Institute for Private Enterprise, the Council for Entrepreneurial Development and the North Carolina Department of Commerce and Board of Science and Technology.