Driving Economic Growth: A Conversation with Dr. Dan Wei

Staff photo of Dr. Dan Wei in front of a non-descript background
Dr. Dan Wei

In the dynamic landscape of economic development, research scholars like Dr. Dan Wei play a pivotal role in shaping strategies for growth and resilience.

As an Economist at the Institute for Applied Economics (IAE), Dan has become an important contributor to the Institute’s dedication to conducting objective, data-driven, and evidence-based research and analysis across diverse areas related to resilient, sustainable, equitable economic growth in Los Angeles. Leveraging her expertise in economic impact modeling, Dan strives to offer tangible solutions to pressing economic challenges.

Transitioning from Academia to Economic Development Organization

Dan’s journey into economic research began during her service as a research track faculty member at the Price School of Public Policy at USC. With over 12 years of highly productive academic research experience, Dan’s decision to transition to LAEDC Institute for Applied Economics stemmed from her aspiration to engage in applied-oriented research that could lead to more tangible and immediate impacts on businesses and communities within the Los Angeles region. One of the key skills Dan brings to her work is the ability to quantify and evaluate various initiatives and programs in terms of their economic impacts and how the effects are distributed across industry sectors and among demographic groups. By analyzing data and running economic models, she helps industries, businesses, and organizations evaluate market trends and assess economic benefits and costs of investment decisions, technology deployment, operational changes, and other initiatives, leading to the identification of opportunities and resources for growth and expansion.

Dan’s initial interaction with LAEDC occurred during a collaborative study several years ago, where she analyzed the economic impacts of water supply disruptions to Los Angeles County for closure scenarios of the California Aqueduct, co-sponsored by LAEDC, LADWP, and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Dan was impressed by LAEDC’s commitment to conducting timely, high-quality, and impactful research to tackle critical issues facing the businesses and communities in the Greater Los Angeles region.

Dan emphasizes the importance of clear communication and transparency in economic development research. She acknowledges the limitations of economic models but underscores their value in providing insights into economic mechanisms and impacts of market transformations. Dan sees research as a fundamental pillar of economic development, providing valuable intelligence to ensure successful efforts in workforce development, business assistance, and community engagement.

Looking at the Future for LAEDC and Sharing Perspectives with Future Researchers

Dan envisions steady growth and increased collaboration for LAEDC among various programs across the region, which means a more productive future for IAE. She hopes to see the organization play a more integrated role in driving economic prosperity in the region. As a researcher, Dan aims to contribute to impactful IAE studies and analyses benefiting stakeholders and communities.

In terms of community engagement, Dan highlights the importance of direct interaction with private and public sectors. Understanding the challenges different sectors face allows researchers to tailor analyses and recommendations effectively. Dan’s commitment to engagement underscores the Institute’s dedication to serving the local economy’s needs.

Dan advises aspiring economic researchers to gain a deeper understanding of real-world dynamics by engaging directly and interacting closely with industry representatives, stakeholders, and subject matter experts. “By combining academic rigor with practical insights, researchers can make meaningful contributions to economic development initiatives,” Dan said.

Dr. Dan Wei’s journey exemplifies the vital role of research in developing solutions for economic growth and resilience. Her passion for economic modeling and commitment to industrial and community engagement highlight the multifaceted nature of economic development. As she continues her dedicated work at LAEDC IAE, Dan is enthusiastic about being a part of the organization’s future growth, envisioning herself as a key contributor to many more influential IAE studies in the coming years, ultimately serving the growth and prosperity of the regional economy.

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