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Center for Business and Economic Research

The Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) in the Culverhouse College of Commerce conducts research on state, regional, and national economic and demographic topics.  It also serves as the central reservoir within the state of Alabama for business, economic, and demographic data.  Since its creation in 1930, CBER has engaged in research programs to promote economic development within the state, while continuously expanding and refining its broad base of socioeconomic information and statistics from federal, state, local, and private sources.

CBERís funded research includes economic impact studies; demographic studies incorporating population projections and GIS mapping; economic forecasts; economic development and regional planning; workforce analysis; transportation corridor socioeconomic studies; policy analysis; industry analysis; environmental economics; environmental justice analysis; and local area profiles.  In partnership with the Capstone Poll, the Center conducts surveys for funded research projects.  CBER staff responds to queries for specific business, economic, and demographic information on Alabama, the region, and the nation.  Additionally, the results of CBER-originated special projects and ongoing programs are frequently used to meet information needs of data users in the public and private sectors.

The Alabama State Data Center (ASDC), housed within CBER, provides an important link with the U.S. Census Bureau.  In this official capacity, CBER is called on to provide state-specific information and assistance to the Census Bureau and in turn receives embargoed data releases and other timely information as well as training workshops and webinars for Center staff.  CBER coordinates a network of 25 ASDC affiliates that provide convenient access to census and other socioeconomic data across the state.  The center maintains current and historical files of data compiled from Census Bureau and other sources on its website.  The center also provides customized extractions and analysis of Census data that would not otherwise be available.

Under the Federal-State Cooperative Programs for Population Estimates and Projections, CBER furnishes the Census Bureau with group quarters and vital events data for annual Alabama county estimates and develops state and county population projections.  Through this participation and the historic need for reliable population estimates and projections, CBER has engaged in population research for more than 30 years.  This experience, coupled with the rising demand for detailed demographic data and projections, has made CBER a leader in demographic work within the state.

As a part of the effort to track the level of economic activity in Alabama, CBER has developed econometric models of the Alabama economy as well as regional and county level models.  The state model was constructed and tested in the late 1970s and first exercised in 1980 to produce short- and long-term forecasts of the economy by industry group; output includes Alabama gross domestic product, employment, personal income, and wages.  The models are continuously revised and refined to reflect the changing structure of the state's economy.  Forecasts from the model are published in the annual Alabama Economic Outlook and in quarterly updates.  They are also used in funded research projects.

The centerís annual Economic Outlook Conference, held in Montgomery during January, is sponsored by both public agencies and private industry.  Conference participants are presented with an up-to-date assessment of prospects for the U.S. and Alabama economies during the coming year, with other relevant topics covered in a luncheon address.  The Alabama Economic Outlook is released at this event.

CBER has an active publications program, which is delivered by email and posted online. Ongoing continuously since the 1930s, Alabama Business features analysis and results of the centerís quarterly forecast update. CBER also publishes Research Notes, a compilation of current research grant opportunities targeted to Culverhouse faculty and staff.  Newsletters and other reports and products are designed and published in-house.

Since 2002 CBER has administered and analyzed the Alabama Business Confidence Index (ABCI). This quarterly online survey of business executives across the state gauges sentiment about the economic environment and industry prospects for the upcoming quarter compared to the current quarter.  Results of the survey are delivered in newsletter format and are tallied for the state as a whole and for the Birmingham-Hoover, Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery metro areas.  CBER partners with the primary business organization in each of these metro areas to recruit and retain ABCI panelists and disseminate survey results.  Communication with registered panelists is via email and results newsletters are posted to the CBER website.

Access to information about the center and to its publications, analyses, and data products is available on the CBER website at  Users can read, print, or download center newsletters as well as obtain current and historical data on Alabama's population, employment, income, and other socioeconomic indicators.

William R. Bennett Alabama International Trade Center

The William R. Bennett Alabama International Trade Center (AITC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the development of international business activity. The trade center actively seeks international opportunities to assist firms and public agencies in successfully concluding business agreements and international projects. Since its creation in 1979, under the auspices of the College of Commerce and Business Administration, AITC has served more than 4,500 firms in a variety of international marketing areas, including international market research, strategic planning, and consulting.

Internships are available at AITC for students with experience or academic training in international business.

Alabama Productivity Center

The Alabama Productivity Center is a vehicle for improving productivity in manufacturing and service firms throughout the state. One of its primary activities is to coordinate applied-research projects in which University faculty and students work jointly with a company's management and labor to resolve specific marketing, production, or other operational problems. These projects have simultaneously a research/educational focus and a real-world mission. Academic benefits include thesis topics, scholarly articles, research assistantships, and permanent employment contacts. Other activities of the center include conducting basic research in productivity analysis and improvement technologies and administering a state productivity and quality award.

Alabama Real Estate Research and Education Center

The Alabama Real Estate Research and Education Center (AREREC) is a state of the art, comprehensive research and education facility designed to support Alabama 's real estate industry and the state's overall economic development efforts.
The center serves as a clearinghouse for real estate expertise and a depository for local, state, and national data that can be used to provide real estate decision makers with site selection, feasibility, and market area analyses.

The center also offers professional real estate education for practitioners and conducts academic research on real estate related topics, real estate markets, and housing policy issues that impact both real estate professionals and the consumer.

Enterprise Integration Lab

The EIL was founded by C&BA in 1996 to help business organizations seamlessly integrate business activities using information technology (IT). Confronted with global market demands and evolving IT, the EIL's mission is to develop business best practices for sharing, managing, controlling, and coordinating business data, work practices, and networks. To accomplish this goal, the lab performs:

  • basic research to expand the fundamental knowledge related to developing complex management information systems
  • applied research to examine how to align theoretical concepts with constraints of the real world
  • business outreach to aid business in applying accepted best practices
  • education to transfer best practices using state of the art techniques and methods

Each of these areas nurtures the others. The results of the lab's basic research is intended to provide the fundamental tenets that are used to solve real business issues for the first time (applied research). Once these tenets are used and their value substantiated, they become the basis for generalized outreach projects. Outreach projects serve a broad segment of the business community and provide experiential education to students through real-world consulting assignments.

Garner Center for Current Accounting Issues

The Garner Center was established within the Culverhouse School of Accountancy in 1988. The center has been successful in fostering and enhancing accounting research and education by providing a focal point for scholarly activities and a vehicle for faculty efforts to address accounting issues. In particular, the center hosts a speaker series to facilitate interaction among faculty, students, and professional accountants. The Garner Center also houses the International Academy of Accounting Historians.

Human Resources Institute

The Human Resources Institute, a unit of the Manderson Graduate School of Business, was organized in January 1972. Through the institute, the University seeks to contribute to the development, upgrading, and effective utilization of human resources in the state, region, and nation. The mechanisms utilized to accomplish these goals include both individual and contract research; training programs for labor, management, and governmental groups; technical assistance programs for private- and public-sector organizations; and the publication and national distribution of research monographs, papers, and proceedings. The institute houses the Alabama Chapter of the Industrial Relations Research Association.

Hess Institute for Retailing Development
The Hess Institute for Retailing Development is based in the Department of Management and Marketing. The initial contribution of funds for the establishment of the institute was made by Parisian Inc. of Birmingham.

The primary objective of the institute is to provide better quality teaching, research, and service to companies that make up the retailing industry. To accomplish this objective, faculty talent and expertise are used to address the needs of both the business and student markets. The Hess Institute sponsors three major annual eventsóRetailing Day, Retailing Week, and the Annual Marketing Symposiumóthat bring together students, academicians, and retailing practitioners so all will benefit through interaction and exchange of ideas.

Institute of Business Intelligence

The Institute of Business Intelligence (IBI) is an applied research institute partnered with the latest vendors and industry users of enterprise products covering the entire spectrum of the business intelligence process in general, and the knowledge discovery and data mining process in particular. The IBI contains an extensive suite of industry leading tools for database, data cleansing, data quality analysis, data preparation and aggregation, statistical analysis, data mining predictive modeling, and data visualization. In addition, the IBI has experienced academic and student staff extensively trained in the practical use of these technologies. The Institute serves as a key focal point for University/industry partnerships in applied research in data mining and knowledge discovery.

MBA Association (MBAA)

The MBA Association (MBAA) was established to assist in the professional development and program enrichment of MBA students in the Manderson Graduate School of Business. Membership includes first and second-year MBA students, and the association supports a learning environment of fellowship, social interaction, and program enhancement. The MBAA. sponsors professional development programming, alumni and community events, corporate outreach, and philanthropic initiatives as well as coordinates social, cultural, athletic and other activities.

Small Business Development Center

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a service arm of the College since 1981, works to improve the economy and quality of life of West Alabama by developing new small businesses and helping existing businesses expand. Assisting 200 to 300 new or existing businesses each year, SBDC provides entrepreneurs with education and training opportunities that cover a wide range of business topics.

Specifically, SBDC is available to assist new or existing firms in devising business plans, assessing new markets, answering basic start-up questions, and addressing other needs. Counseling, workshop training, and information transfer form the core of SBDC activities.

SBDC's location within the College encourages maximum benefit from the College's extensive business resources. Faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, library holdings, and other College units (for example, the Center for Business and Economic Research) support SBDC's service mission.



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