Erie Vital Signs Strengthened Through New Partnership with ERIE


ERIE – Erie Vital Signs, a leadership initiative of The Erie Community Foundation, revealed a new partnership with The Economic Research Institute of Erie (ERIE), a research center of the Black School of Business at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College.

“We are pleased to announce that The Economic Research Institute of Erie (ERIE), will now perform the data gathering and analysis formerly contracted to the University of Pittsburgh,” said Foundation President Michael L. Batchelor.

“More importantly, Dr. Ken Louie, director of The Economic Research Institute of Erie (ERIE) and Associate Professor of Economics, Penn State Behrend, and Dr. Jim Kurre, director emeritus of ERIE, will now conduct an array of community presentations and workshops designed to help policy makers, elected officials, donors and the general public better understand how we can work together to move our region forward,” said Batchelor.

Dr. Balaji Rajagopalan, who is the director of the Black School of Business at Penn State Behrend, “This partnership between The Erie Community Foundation and ERIE signifies the impact the Black School of Business and its faculty have in providing timely analysis for decision makers in the region.”

“Erie Vital Signs compares our region to 13 peer communities,” explained Dr. Kurre. “Comparing our region to other areas of the country helps us see our competitive strengths and weaknesses. This also gives us a way to better measure community progress.”

Dr. Louie added the overall project goal is to spark a more informed civic dialog. “Providing a timely and accurate statistical picture of our region will promote data-based discussions on where we are and where we should go as a region,” said Louie.

An example of how Erie Vital Signs data informs decision-making can be found in an analysis of homeowner rates. “When you look at aggregate data, Erie is right in the middle of our peers,” said Batchelor. “But Erie Vital Signs helps anyone interested to dig deeper. With a few clicks of your mouse, you can see that Asian and Hispanic homeowner rates for Erie County are at the very bottom of our peer group. Anyone wanting to help should be aware of this,” he said.

Data in each of the seven Vital Signs topical areas will be monitored by a panel of recognized topical experts, convened by the community foundation, to insure we spot trends. “The ERIE team will help us develop and distribute monthly data updates,” Batchelor said. “The goal is to both inform and inspire our region.”

For additional information regarding Erie Vital Signs, call Erie Community Foundation vice president of Community Impact, George Espy at 814-454-0843, or visit