Remembering George Morse (1943-2021)

As a member of the NERCRD Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) from 2013-2016, George was a champion for two major Center projects: coordinating efforts among Northeast Community Development Extension programs to document the impacts of their public engagement efforts, and a small-grants program designed to encourage collaboration across state lines.

“The cheerful and dedicated leadership that George brought to these projects was absolutely critical to their success,” said Stephan Goetz, Director of NERCRD. “And the fact that the grant program continues and the impact documents continue to be used is part of George’s lasting legacy with the Center.”

As Special Projects Manager (2015-2016), George led a Northeast Learning Circle on Community, Regional, and Economic Development (CRED) Impact Indicators, which culminated in “The Impact Indicators Tips Booklet,” a publication co-authored by George, Charlie French, and Scott Chazdon.

George also helped launch the Center’s small-grants program, playing the critical role of connecting interested participants and helping them to envision their projects. Since its inception, the program has served as a vehicle to connect 49 CRED researchers and educators in 13 states and has expanded CRED programming in the Northeast.

“Thanks to George’s support of and advocacy for the small grants program, Extension, research, and teaching faculty and staff in the Northeast organized around critical and emerging issues that served to increase community vitality and leverage the rich resources of our communities,” said Charlie French, former fellow TAC Member with the University of New Hampshire Extension.

Prior to his service on the NERCRD TAC, one of George’s earliest collaborations with the Center was on the publication of a series a series of booklets he co-authored with Scott Loveridge, titled Implementing Local Business Retention and Expansion Visitation Programs (Loveridge and Morse, 1998). These materials are now out of print, but are available here as an archival resource.

Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) was one major focus of George’s illustrious career as an applied economist. In addition to his project with Scott Loveridge, he edited a foundational book on the subject (The Retention and Expansion of Existing Businesses, 1990). According to his CV, he created and delivered BRE programs in 94 counties in Ohio and Minnesota, and his program was adopted/adapted in 37 states. In 1996, he founded the University of Minnesota’s BRE program, which continues today. He was recognized for his BRE work with the 2001 Distinguished Business and Community Service Award by Business Retention and Expansion International.

George served as Associate Dean & Director of Extension (2002-2007) and as Professor of Applied Economics (1989-2002) at the University of Minnesota. In a recent email thread among his UMN colleagues, George was remembered as a “champion”, “tireless advocate”, and “‘Gorilla Glue’ guy” of community vitality who dedicated his career to “further[ing] the work of community vitality as an important part of Extension’s mission.” He mentored countless students, faculty, and educators. To read comments from his mentees and colleagues, or to add your own, see his obituary, where you also can learn more about George’s family life and his post-retirement activities.

The NERCRD team extends our sincere condolences to George’s family, friends, and colleagues, and our gratitude for his service to the Center.

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