Best-Performing Cities


Jessica Jackson

JESSICA JACKSON is a research analyst in regional economics at the Milken Institute Center for Regional Economics, conducting research on human capital, innovation, entrepreneurship, and competitiveness. Jackson's previous work includes "New Skills at Work: Keeping Los Angeles at the Cutting Edge in an Evolving Industry," "Hollywood's Diversity Problem: It's Not Just Actors," "Regional Performance Over Time Case Study: The Bend-Redmond, Ore. Metropolitan Statistical Area," and "Best-Performing Cities China 2016." Prior to joining the Institute, Jackson was a teaching fellow at the University of North Texas, teaching courses in macroeconomics. She holds bachelor's degrees in economics and history from the University of North Texas, where she also earned a master's degree in economics focusing on applied econometrics.

Joe Lee

JOE LEE is a research analyst with the Milken Institute on the regional economics team. He specializes in labor economics with a focus in human capital and economic development. Recent work includes the internet effect on educational attainment. He has been involved in projects that include regional workforce issues, human capital interactions, entrepreneurship and innovation. Joe received his M.A. in economics from CSULB and graduated from The Evergreen State College.

Michael Lin

MICHAEL C.Y. LIN is a research analyst in regional economics at the Milken Institute. His current research focuses on urban and regional economic development in Asia and the United States. Prior to joining the Institute, Dr. Lin was a teaching associate at the University of Southern California (USC) focusing on quantitative methods and analysis. Dr. Lin's articles have been published in such academic outlets as the Annals of Regional Science, and he has published two book chapters about community planning and shrinking cities. He was also involved in writing several reports on green buildings, informal housing, sustainable community development, and urban and regional economic development. He has also participated in peer reviews for academic journal articles. Dr. Lin holds a bachelor's degree in architecture and a master's degree in urban design, both from the National Taipei University of Technology in Taiwan, and a Ph.D. in policy, planning, and development with a specialization in urban economics from USC.

Minoli Ratnatunga

MINOLI RATNATUNGA is an economist and the director of regional economics research at the Milken Institute Center for Regional Economics. With her team, she investigates the key economic development issues facing regions, including competitiveness, fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, and building human capital. Ratnatunga's publications include "Concept to Commercialization: The Best Universities for Technology Transfer," "Regional Performance Over Time: Thriving and Reviving Amid Economic Challenges," "California's Innovation-Based Economy: Policies to Maintain and Enhance It," "State Technology and Science Index," and the Best-Performing Cities series. Before joining the Institute, she worked for eight years at the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, a regional economic development organization focused on the Pittsburgh area's competitiveness and quality of life. There she focused her research on energy policy, transportation and infrastructure funding, and state tax competitiveness, working with civic and business leaders to help key decision-makers make better policy choices. Ratnatunga has a bachelor's degree in philosophy and economics from the London School of Economics and a master's degree in public policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University.

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