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Date: 2019-06-26 Page is: DBtxt001.php txt00010665

The Institute

The Institute of Public Policy and Economic Development


Peter Burgess


To serve organizations and communities needing reliable research based on best practices to make smart decisions


The Institute’s mission is to empower our customers to make good choices based on sound research, data, and best practices.


The Institute aims to assist organizations sustain themselves and grow by informing and educating.


The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development (The Institute), formerly known as Joint Urban Studies Center (JUSC) is a partnership of nine colleges and universities in the Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre/ Hazleton Metropolitan Statistical Area. The Institute’s managing partner is Wilkes University.

Formed in 2004, the center began operations with pledged capital from business and industry, higher education, and nonprofit organizations in the city of Wilkes-Barre to assist with specific revitalization efforts now completed or near completion.

From there, The Institute emerged as a regional entity providing both community based research for informed planning and decision-making and a premier resource for public, private, and non-profit sectors to use in developing feasibility, market or impact studies; strategy; program evaluation; initiatives; and policy.

Advisory Board

Name Institution/Business

Patrick Leahy, Ed.D. - Chairman Wilkes University
Frank Joanlanne - Vice-Chairman Borton Lawson Engineering
William P. Montague - Founder Montague Family Foundation
Heather Acker Gentex Corporation
Congressman Lou Barletta, Co-Chair Public Safety Task Force
Thomas Botzman, Ph.D. Misericordia University
Terry Casey Chancellor Financial Group
Cornelio Catena Commonwealth Health System
John Cefaly Cushman & Wakefield
David Coppola, Ph.D. Keystone College
Thomas Curra WVIA Public Media
Charles Davis, Ph.D. Penn State University / Wilkes-Barre
Robert Durkin Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce
Pat Fricchione Simplex Homes Inc.
Charles Kasko, Chair, Housing Task Force Wyoming Valley Motors
Elena Kilpatrick Frontier Communications
Thomas E. Lawson Borton-Lawson
Thomas Leary Luzerne County Community College
Robert Luciani, Chair, Jobs, Economy, and Economic Development Chair Prudential
Mary Ellen Monacelli Sanofi Pasteur
Anne Munley, IHM, Ph.D. Marywood University
Kevin Quinn, S.J. University of Scranton
Thomas Romanowski GreenSpace Properties, LLC
Eugene Roth Rosenn, Jenkins, & Greenwald
John J. Ryan, C.S.C., Ph.D. King's College
Steven J. Scheinman, MD The Commonwealth Medical College
Conrad Schintz Geisinger Health System
William E. Sordoni, Chair, Energy Task Force Sordoni Construction
Matthew Sordoni Upland Corporation
Marleen Troy, Ph.D., Chair, Planning, Land use, Transportation and Infrastructure Task Force (PLuTI) Wilkes University
Wico van Genderen Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business & Industry
Lucyann Vierling, Chair, Education and Workforce Development Wayne Pike Workforce Alliance
Mark Volk Lackawanna College
John P. Wiercinski, Chair, Health & Healthcare Task Force Geisinger Health System
John T. Yudichak, Co-Chair, Public Safety Task Force Pennsylvania State Senate, 14th Senatorial District
William B Sordoni - Emeritus, Founding Member & Officer Sordoni Construction

Staff Profiles

Teri Ooms, Executive Director

Teri Ooms was appointed Executive Director of the newly formed Joint Urban Studies Center (The Institute) in 2004. In 2008, JUSC became The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development. The Institute is a think tank that has been established to provide essential research, analysis, and consultation to entities looking for revitalization and long-term sustainability. The principal purpose of The Institute is to increase the capacity of organizations to solve their own problems and become thriving entities.

Since its inception Ooms has been responsible for all facets of research, organizational strategy, and management. Ooms is an active principal investigator in all Institute research. Ooms has been nationally recognized as a leader in regional economic development. She turned that skill into a research institute to help other communities develop and prosper. Her strategic skills have allowed The Institute to expand its services to the private and non-profit sectors for research and analysis in community health needs assessments, strategic planning, market and feasibility studies, and economic impact analysis. Ooms’ leadership has expanded The Institute’s work to other states. Under her direction, The Institute has completed over 100 client and community based studies. These studies have resulted in new jobs, new programs, sustained initiatives, and new legislation throughout Pennsylvania and in New York. Ooms also serves on a number of local and regional non-profit boards.

From 1997 – 2004, Ooms served as President/CEO of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership (IEEP), Riverside, CA and of its two sister companies. IEEP is responsible for the regional marketing, attraction, and recruitment of new business to the region, the expansion and retention of existing business, film, tourism, high tech regional development, a workforce collaborative, regional visioning & planning, legislative advocacy, and the Small Business Development Center.

As President/CEO, Ms. Ooms completed a reorganization of the company resulting in new programs and services, financial stability and increased prominence in the community. In the period of 1997-2003, IEEP had 70 successful business attractions and retentions resulting in over $730 million in new investment into the region creating over 9,500 jobs. The region had over 5,000 film shoots, demonstrating a little over $425 million in regional impact in the same period. In 1999, she was awarded 'Management Leader of the Year,' by the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management, and in 1998, 1999, and 2000 was a recipient of the 'Women of Distinction' award given by the Business Press. During her term as CEO, IEEP’s membership grew by 10% and maintained an average membership retention ratio of 93%. IEEP evolved to include a high technology development program and coordination of the region’s workforce collaborative to bring education and business partnerships to benefit employers, employees, and students; and a regional collaborative focused on regional visioning, planning, advocacy and implementation.

Ms. Ooms joined IEEP in 1991 as the Executive Director of its Inland Empire Small Business Development Center. Under the direction of Ms. Ooms, the Center grew to a staff of 21 with multiple regional locations, and its program has increased funding to $1.1 million, making it the largest California program. The Center created numerous special services and training programs, and demonstrated economic impact of over $300 million in its eleven-year history.

Ms. Ooms is a cum laude graduate of the University of Scranton with a BS in Public Administration and an MBA in Finance.

Andrew Chew, Research Analyst

Andrew Chew is a policy, planning, and economic development professional and a native of Carbon County, Pennsylvania. He is experienced in urban planning and has previously held positions at the Somerset County, New Jersey Planning Board and Lehigh Valley Planning Commission. He also worked on a variety of community-focused research projects as a Research Assistant at the Lehigh Valley Research Consortium. Andrew is experienced in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), statistical software, and other technologies to perform data analysis and policy research. His professional accomplishments include work on an extensive Trends and Indicators Report, several neighborhood revitalization plans, and collection and analysis of critical data from secondary sources and in the field.

Andrew holds a Master's in City and Regional Planning from the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. His graduate studies included coursework in community and economic development, urban economics, land use planning, and GIS. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Muhlenberg College, graduating magna cum laude and with honors for his senior research project examining economic development policies in Northeastern Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Lehighton Area High School.

Nimita Patel, Research Assistant

Nimita Patel was appointed the Research Assistant at The Institute in 2013. The Research Assistant works under the direction of the Executive Director and provides support for The Institute’s operations to include administrative functions, meeting and event coordination and logistics, fulfillment and dissemination of information, outreach functions to academic institutions to secure student and faculty research support; research and special projects, socia media and intern recruitment.

A recent graduate of Wilkes University, Nimita earned three Bachelor’s degrees. Nimita majored in Criminology, Psychology, and Sociology with minors in Mathematics, Economics, Political Science, International Studies, Leadership Studies, and Women’s Studies. Nimita was a Dean’s list honor student and a member the Psi Chi Honor Society and Alpha Kappa Delta. In addition, she was the recipient of the John J. Chwalek, Sr. Scholarship at Wilkes University.

Faculty and Students

Students and faculty from member institutions have the opportunity to work on community based research and/or client projects with The Institute.

The Institute aims to advance a student’s critical thinking, analysis, and writing skills while providing valuable experience in a work environment. Students are engaged in a variety of research projects including applied research and secondary research. Students are provided with curriculum necessary to support the project and ongoing mentoring. The process for becoming an intern at The Institute is competitive and is outlined under student internships.

Faculty has the same opportunity to work with The Institute to participate in community based research or client activity.

Both formal and informal relationship opportunities exist and are outlined in various sections on this site. This include participating in either the annual symposium, advisor, publishing, or informally as research support.

The Institute's Academic Advisory Council includes appointees from all of our member institutions and coordinates our academic programs.

Beth Admiraal, Ph.D., Professor, King's College
Terry Clemente, Business Faculty, Penn State/Wilkes-Barre
Alexander Dawoody, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Marywood University
Joseph H. Dreisbach, Ph.D., Associate Provost, University of Scranton
Thea Harrington, Ph.D., Vice President of Academic Affairs, Keystone College
Scott Koerwer, Ed.D., Vice President of Strategic Initiatives & Planning, The Commonwealth Medical College
Gary Mrozinski, Ph.D., Dean of Business & Technology, Luzerne County Community College
Jill Murry, Ph.D., Executive Vice President & Chief Academic Officer, Lackawanna College
Bernie Rushmer, Director, Insalaco Center for Career Development, Misericordia University
Anne Skleder, Ph.D., Provost, Wilkes University

85 South Main Street, Suite 201 - Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 18701 - ph 570.408.9850 - email - fax 570.408.9854
107 St. Thomas Hall, University of Scranton - Scranton, Pennsylvania 18503

Keystone College logo
King's College logo
Lackawanna College

Luzerne County Community College logo
Marywood logo
Misericordia logo
Penn State Wilkes-Barre Campus logo
The Commonwealth Medical College logo
University of Scranton logo
Wilkes University logo

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