The next issue of the Fort Smith Regional Economic Outlook Report will feature research conducted by Shayna Gatzke of Greenwood, a May business administration graduate from the College of Business at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith.

The quarterly report produced by the Center of Business Research and Economic Development (CBRED) is expected to be released in the second week of June and will include key findings from Gatzke’s independent study project which was completed during the 2013 spring semester.

The study was conducted under the supervision of Dr. Latisha Settlage of Fort Smith, associate professor of economics in the College of Business and research associate in CBRED. Gatzke was required to review the research literature on cluster analysis, design and conduct the research using data on the Fort Smith regional economy, and report findings in a written report.

"I’d asked Dr. Settlage if there was a project I could do that would give me a good feel for the field of economics, an area I’m interested in studying in graduate school," Gatzke said. "The project was a challenge, but the opportunity to use current theory and methods to address practical issues was very exciting to me."

Gatzke’s research used analytical tools to identify economic clusters in the five-county Fort Smith Metropolitan Statistical Area, assess cluster performance in terms of job creation and gross domestic product and rate clusters as to their competitive potential relative to national benchmarks.

Dr. Settlage commended Gatzke on the quality and scope of the research produced.

"Shayna produced the kind of research as an undergraduate that you would hope to get from a graduate student — theory-driven, rigorous and well-designed — all that and very practical as to its application," she said.

Dr. Kermit Kuehn of Fort Smith, CBRED director, recalled that when Settlage proposed the project with Gatzke, he and Settlage both had Gatze in multiple classes.

"We knew she would do a great job," said Kuehn. "Shayna just makes it happen — no excuses."

Gatzke plans to pick up additional courses at UAFS in the fall in order to meet graduate school admission requirements for economics.

Kuehn noted that he will discuss highlights from Gatzke’s research during the upcoming Fort Smith Regional Economic Forum luncheon, to be held on July 10 on the UAFS campus. The forum is sponsored by Arvest Bank.

For more information on this event, contact the center by telephone at 479-788-7938 or by email at CBRED@uafs.edu.