Sara Lawrence has over 15 of experience in economic development strategic planning, program evaluation, data analysis, and policy development. She has worked with various levels of government, helping leaders and engaging stakeholders in creating jobs and spurring transformative economic growth. She effectively interacts across all economic development sectors—business, education, non-profit, and government. Her specialties include innovation ecosystems, entrepreneurship, industry cluster, value chain analysis, and clean energy-based economic development. Ms. Lawrence is a part of the Idea Lab for Equitable Economic Development. The Idea Lab is a virtual platform that brings voices from various people, places, and perspectives on how to improve equitable economic development. It hosts in-depth articles and interviews on research and practice to advance the field.
She has wide-ranging experience in innovation and technology-based economic development in urban and rural settings. Her work includes helping innovation hubs and research parks further advance innovation economies, assessing how cities and regions can leverage innovation assets to diversify their economic base and create economic opportunity, and analyzing opportunities for expansion in industry sectors such as manufacturing.
Previously, Ms. Lawrence worked on the Blueprint for Inclusive Regional Economic Development—North Carolina. She researched and analyzed regional innovation economies, identified gaps and opportunities for development, and created a roadmap for investment and action for broad-based growth. In addition, she also served as the Project Director for Innovation and Entrepreneurship-based Program Evaluation—Oregon, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Kansas, Maryland, the Appalachian Region, and Thailand. In this capacity, she established metrics and evaluation criteria to assess the success of government and foundation investments to promote economic development.