Social Context | Coastal Index | The Data Center
Social Context
What is this section about?

Development of an industrial cluster requires a long-term commitment to developing civic and organizational capacity as well as regional cooperation. Philanthropy, government agencies, educational institutions, workforce development programs, and the research community all have important roles to play. Aligning regulations and policy with long-term coastal planning and economic development initiatives can help to amplify the economic ripple effect of coastal investment. Educational institutions conduct scientific research and contribute to the skills necessary for a deep, diverse bench of coastal expertise. Philanthropy, the nonprofit sector, and government agencies can increase regional awareness and cross-pollinate coastal issues across organizational silos. The exchange of ideas across otherwise disconnected organizations, industries, and fields of expertise creates opportunities for innovation. Such connections ensure that coastal planning and implementation are innovative, comprehensive, and effective.

Educated Workforce
Why is this important?

Human capital is now the best predictor of regional economic growth. Research has shown that jobs flock to places that have high-quality labor, and the skill level of the workforce contributes more to explaining regional growth than other factors like amenities. [note] The prevalence of adults with a college degree is the most meaningful indicator of an educated, highly skilled workforce. [note]

State Spending on Higher Education
Why is this important?

States have historically been the primary force behind funding public higher education. [note] Historically, universities and university-industry partnerships have served as anchors in the genesis of several high-profile clusters. For example, in the 1950s, the state of North Carolina built the Research Triangle Park—first envisioned as a way to strategically invest the meager resources of a poor state. North Carolina invested heavily in higher education, which attracted federal research institutions and R&D divisions of large companies, such as IBM. [note]

Philanthropic Spending
Why is this important?

Philanthropic support is an indicator of corporate and civic priorities. It identifies what the leaders within a community find valuable and how they dedicate their resources. Philanthropy has an impact on crucial inputs for economic development, such as workforce development and information sharing. [note] Support for environmental causes can increase regional awareness and civic clout, as well as foster the exchange of ideas.

Research and Development (R&D)
Why is this important?

Research and development (R&D) indicates the extent to which private businesses and government agencies invest in innovation, which ultimately leads to new applications of technology and a more productive workforce. Spillovers from R&D, whether it be in business, academia, or government have spawned many famous clusters. [note] Investments in and the commercialization of innovation is essential for the emergence of a cluster. [note]