Regional Economics Applications Laboratory
REAL's mission is to provide timely, high quality analytical economic information for a variety of uses such as public policy decision making by public sector agencies and for strategic marketing in the private sector. REAL's capabilities revolve around comprehensive state and metropolitan models that integrate econometric and input-output analysis to provide for both impact and forecasting analyses.
REAL draws its staff from cooperating institutions and advanced graduate students in the fields of economics, geography, urban and regional planning, computer science and mathematics. Many of the projects the students work on then become the basis for thesis and dissertations.
In January of 1989, the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL) was created as a cooperative venture between the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the University of Illinois focusing on the devlopment and use of analytical models for urban and regional economic development. Philip Israilevich (FED Chicago) and Geoffrey J.D. Hewings (UIUC) were the founders of this non-for-profit Laboratory housed whithin the Institute for Government and Public Affairs in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. An announcement of the new lab can be found here.
REAL was formed with the intent of providing high quality analytical modeling capability at modest cost to individuals, public and private corporations, and federal, state, and local government agencies interested in understanding past economic trends and desiring a window on the future. The Laboratory is staffed by professionals drawn from personnel of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and several graduate research assistants from several departments including Geography, Economics, Urban and Regional Planning and Agricultural and Consumer Economics.
While REAL's primary focus has been on the economies of the Midwest, REAL has collaborated in the development of models for several regions on the east coast. In addition, two models have been constructed for states in Brazil and a third is under construction. A model for the Jakarta Metropolitan region is also under construction.
After more than 25 years, REAL has created a vast network of alumni and visiting scholars around the world. This allows greater collaboration and exchange of ideas. A small sample of past "mafia" members can be found in the interactive map below (thanks Esteban Lopez for puting it together!).