ISSUE 255 | May 2nd, 2024

The Institute is an economic research and applied research and consulting group that provides customized client solutions and strategies to facilitate decision making and planning that enhances growth, impact, and sustainability for organizations.

From Around the Region and the State
Economic and Policy News

Philly is Giving Free SEPTA Rides to Low Income Residents, No Strings Attached

The city of Philadelphia is testing its Zero Fare pilot program, which gives out unlimited free rides for low-income residents.

This comes after transportation was labeled as a major barrier to residents seeking employment.

The city is funding the pilot until 2025, and also hopes to use Zero Fare as a revitalization for SEPTA use.  

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How Jefferson Health’s Honickman Center Became a Blueprint for an Inclusive Neurodiverse Environment


The Honickman Center was designed with consideration to neurodiverse inclusivity, with design features and items to assist with sensory issues aiding neurodiverse individuals.

Approximately 15-20 percent of the global population are neurodivergent, with diagnoses such as autism, ADHD, and other types of intellectual and sensory challenges.

The project is hoping for future collaboration in which designers and medical professionals can design more inclusive medical spaces. 

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A Pittsburgh Company’s Self-Driving Tractor Trailers Will Hit U.S. Roads Soon

Pittsburgh-based company Aurora plans to launch 20 self-driving trucks this year.

Equipped with laser, radar, and camera sensors, the goal of the trucks is to run supply chain systems around the clock without a need for breaks and lower costs.

Self-driving trucks are also expected to save on fuel efficiency and more streamlined delivery schedules.

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From Around the Nation and the Globe
Economic and Policy News

Removing Barriers to Participation in Local and State Government Procurement and Contracting for Entrepreneurs of Color

Each year, state and local government procurements expend more than $ 1 trillion.

Removing barriers to contracting participation, especially for entrepreneurs of color and minority-owned enterprises could make a significant impact in equitable business.

The Urban Institute discusses factors such as court cases, the current procurement landscape, and other local practices that may influence the success of MBE participation. 


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Genetics Studies Have a Diversity Problem that Researchers Struggle to Fix

A study in South Carolina is underway that aims to enroll 100,000 underrepresented South Carolinians into genetic research.

The goal is to better understand the long-term health risks associated with genes.

Lack of diversity in genetic research have real health implications, with small differences in genes determining different health outcomes, especially between different demographic groups. 

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How will AI Affect Productivity?


With the rise of generative artificial intelligence, there has also been a rise in debates on income generation, innovation, and job creation or loss.

With the ability to change the face of efficiency in production, many also wonder the downside to a reliance on AI practices.

Brookings Research looks at the future of technological productivity with AI, as well as the concerns of introducing AI as a major component of technological innovation.  

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