Center for the Study of Community & Economy

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The Center for the Study of Community and the Economy (CSCE) is a public service, applied research organization with a mission to conduct research and provide data analysis and planning on issues related to community and economic development and public policy. The Center serves the needs of Williamsport, Lycoming County and North Central Pennsylvania. The interdisciplinary nature of faculty and staff involved in the center provides an unbiased and complementary approach to the study of the communities that the center serves.

The center is built upon the idea that a growing economy is necessary to maintain a vibrant community and a vibrant community is required for economic growth. In taking an interdisciplinary approach to the study of public opinion, public policy, economic analysis and community development, the center’s primary goal is to improve the region’s quality of life as it is defined in the broadest sense.

The Center’s mission also extends to providing students with special opportunities to work with faculty in producing original, applied research. As future economic and community leaders, students involved in the center’s activities will have the opportunity to work in a real world laboratory to hone their ability to understand the challenges and opportunities they and their communities face.

CSCE projects, under the leadership of Drs. Jonathan Williamson and Bonita Kolb (retired), include extensive research on the community impacts of the natural gas development in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania. Two studies, Natural Gas Development’s Effect on Housing in Pennsylvania and Marcellus Natural Gas Development’s Effect on Housing in Pennsylvania: 2015 Update, were commissioned by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and received considerable attention.

The studies explore the effects of unconventional shale gas development on housing statewide through stakeholder interviews and data analysis on four broad issues: 1) rental housing, 2) owner-occupied housing, 3) housing affordability and availability, and 4) the capacity of the development community to meet demand for housing.

Professors Williamson and Kolb also published an article entitled, “Water and Sewer Infrastructure Challenges as a Barrier to Housing Development in the Marcellus Shale Region” in the journal “Environmental Practice.”

In recent years, CSCE has conducted applied research projects for the following organizations:
• Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA)
• Lycoming County United Way
• Bucknell University
• City of Williamsport
• Williamsport Crosscutters Minor League Baseball Organization
• Lycoming-Clinton Counties Commission for Community Action (STEP), Inc.
• Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corporation (CPWDC)
• Lycoming Clinton Bi-County Office of Aging
• Williamsport/Lycoming Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ)

Please contact Jonathan Williamson, Ph.D., the center’s director, for additional information.