Lexington Hosts University Cities Conference

Oct 16, 2017

Credit Stu Johnson

A Harvard University economics professor says universities are responsible for seeking ways to benefit all citizens in their college towns. 

Ed Glaeser delivered the keynote address at the first University Cities Conference Friday in Lexington.


Glaeser says making sure success associated with high levels of learning spills over into less-privileged parts of a community carries certain challenges.  

In fact, the Harvard educator says there’s no one single answer.  But, Glaeser believes one to consider is “skill creation.” 

“Vocational training that’s smart, that doesn’t necessarily segregate people along vocational tracks but rather involves competitively sourced from for profit groups, from union groups, from non-profit providers,” said Glaeser.

Glaeser says a certain amount of skills is required for people where the service economy is the right answer.  

But, he says it’s important to figure out better ways to deliver those skills.  

The Harvard educator says universities can play a big role in encouraging business development in economically-depressed areas. 

Glaeser admits some regulations can serve to stifle entrepreneurial creativity in low income communities. 

“We regulate rich person entrepreneurship so much more lightly than we do poor person entrepreneurship.  If you want to start an internet company that lives primarily in cyber space, we put very few barriers to your brilliance.  If you want to start a little coffee shop that sells milk products, you got 18 permits to get through in Boston to get there.  That’s crazy,”  Glaeser said.

Lexington was one of six university cities explored during the day long conference at the University of Kentucky.