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Apr 9, 2024

Kenan Institute and Fifth Third Launch ‘Empowering American Cities’

Program delivers local economic insights that position leaders, business owners for growth 

Fifth Third Bank and the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School have launched Empowering American Cities, a program that delivers relevant, local economic information tailored for business leaders looking to grow their operations.

“Midsize cities are the heart and soul of our footprint. Unfortunately, there is limited data available to understand why some cities succeed as others fall behind,” said Tim Spence, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Fifth Third. “Empowering American Cities delivers unique economic insights that put data at the center of decision-making, empowering business owners as they drive investment in their companies, their communities and ultimately our entire country.”

Empowering American Cities is built on proprietary data from the Kenan Institute. Researchers use extended metropolitan areas (EMAs) created for its American Growth Project as a designation for U.S. areas that are connected in economically meaningful ways.

EMAs account for nearly 90% of U.S. gross domestic product and encompass the 150 largest metropolitan areas from New York City, with its $2.5 trillion economic output, to Wilmington, North Carolina, with its unique economic and industrial traits.

The program is the outcome of a collaborative relationship between Fifth Third Bank and the Kenan Institute. It provides individually created dashboards based on Kenan Institute research for all EMAs. Business owners can view information side by side, allowing for direct comparisons of fiscal characteristics and other economic health indicators. These metrics can help accelerate business decisions that drive sustainable growth.

“Empowering American Cities is an innovative, cross-sector collaboration that will foster economic opportunity by providing data and insights to inform business and civic leaders’ strategic decision-making in their communities,” said UNC Kenan-Flagler Dean Mary Margaret Frank (BSBA ’92, MAC ’92, PhD ’99). “This is a wonderful model for the way business schools can partner with industry leaders to make the world a better place.”

Kenan Institute economists and Fifth Third Bank leaders developed “Regional Economic Snapshots” for 30 areas, analyzing drivers that power those communities forward. They review developing indicators for labor supply, consumer demand and embedded local growth characteristics.

“Pairing the Kenan Institute’s research capabilities and economic expertise with Fifth Third’s insights from its on-the-ground work, this collaborative effort will provide timely measurement of economic conditions, to help determine which policies and business practices are working – and which are not – for business owners, communities and municipalities across the country,” said Gerald Cohen, Kenan Institute chief economist.

“Through this relationship, the Kenan Institute and Fifth Third Bank will advance information and knowledge about America’s local economies,” said Jeff Korzenik, Fifth Third Commercial Bank chief economist. “There is a vital, continuing need to understand the economy at a scale that is meaningful to local businessowners and those driving communities forward, and we intend to meet this need head on.”

Future public events in select markets will feature the Empowering American Cities economist team sharing an in-depth, local economic outlook, including one scheduled for June 25 in Charlotte. For a full schedule, see Empowering American Cities.

As the initiative expands, additional research, whitepapers and resources will be made available.

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