Nichola Lowe
My graduate and undergraduate courses focus on economic development, labor market transformation and employment policy.

The Changing American Job: First Year Seminar: PLAN 53
This first year undergraduate seminar looks at the changing nature of the American job and the transformative forces that have influenced this change in recent decades and with it intensified economic insecurity for many U.S. workers. This seminar not only helps students think critically about the larger economic and policy implications of U.S. labor market restructuring, but also how the forces behind this change, and responses to it, potentially affect strategies available to those seeking meaningful work.

Planning for Jobs: PLAN 774
This graduate level course examines changing labor market conditions and their impact on U.S. workers, especially middle and low income earners. This course focuses primarily on policy and planning implications of labor market transformation and the role that local practitioners play in addressing sources of economic disparity. We critically evaluate a number of workforce development strategies and initiatives, including new partnerships that promote high performance work systems; sector approaches that link work-based skill development with industry upgrading; efforts to connect smart-growth and social equity goals; and finally, new approaches to labor and community organizing designed to improve economic justice, including community benefits and living wage movements.

Economic Development Policy: PLAN 770
Our gateway graduate-level course for the economic development specialization, PLAN 770 introduces students to the field of local economic development policy and planning and to commonly-used economic development strategies, from industrial recruitment and stadium building to small business assistance and university-led innovation. The ultimate goal of this course is to enable students to think critically about both merits and limits of specific economic development strategies, yet also understand the particular conditions under which communities and community actors can guide and coordinate strategy use in innovative and more equitable ways.

Economic Development Workshop: PLAN 823
I have offered three Economic Development Workshop courses since 2007. These workshops respond to a client-need and have allowed students to apply their analytical skills to a community economic development concern.

In Spring 2007 our client was Durham C.A.N., a broad-based social justice coalition based in Durham, North Carolina. Students in this workshop conducted background research for C.A.N.‘s jobs team with the goal of establishing accountability standards for city and county business and economic development incentives. The outcome was a change to Durham City’s incentive policy in 2009 that resulted in the first local hiring provision tied to business incentives enacted in the state of North Carolina.

In Spring 2010, we helped a non-profit health care provider, RHA Howell, develop a strategy for enhancing health care career development opportunities in Lenoir County, a high-poverty area in eastern North Carolina. RHA Howell sought our help in assessing the feasibility of a region-wide ‘career lattice’ program that would allow workers to move through various regional health care organizations and in the process secure better advancement opportunities. With this in mind, students conducted background research to help RHA Howell identify institutional opportunities and challenges to program expansion.

In Fall 2012, we worked with the director of economic development in Warren County to identify opportunities for promoting local economic development that leverages existing community assets and legacies, most notably resource-based strengths in agriculture and timber extraction. Students conducted a value-chain analysis for resource-based industries in the region. They also developed a strategy for targeted recruitment of outside enterprises to strengthen or fill gaps within local resource-based supply chains. Building from this workshop, Warren County approved a new incentive policy in January 2014 that targets incentives to firms aligned most closely with  local industrial and workforce strengths.