A nonprofit, nonpartisan economic think tank, the Milken Institute works to improve lives around the world by advancing innovative economic and policy solutions that create jobs, widen access to capital, and enhance health. We produce rigorous, independent economic research and maximize its impact by convening global leaders from the worlds of business, finance, government, and philanthropy. By fostering collaboration between the public and private sectors, we transform great ideas into action.
Regions succeed or fail based on the resilience and flexibility with which their industries, workforce and institutions anticipate and respond to change. The Milken Institute's regional economics research conducted within the Center for Jobs and Human Capital aims to assess and understand the factors and policies that drive and sustain regional job creation, and communicate these to policymakers and key stakeholders.
Ross DeVol is the chief research officer at the Milken Institute. He oversees research on international, national, and subnational growth performance; access to capital and its role in economic growth and job creation; and health-related topics. DeVol has put the organization in the national limelight with groundbreaking research on technology and its impact on regional and national economies and on the economic and human consequences of chronic disease. He specializes in the effects of research and development activities, international trade, human capital and labor-force skills training, entrepreneurship, early stage financing, and quality-of-place issues on the geographic distribution of economic activity. His "Best-Performing Cities: Where America's Jobs Are Created" was first published in 2004 and has been regularly updated since. It reveals which cities are creating jobs and economic opportunity and describes the factors determining long-term success. In "A Matter of Degrees: The Effect of Educational Attainment on Regional Economic Prosperity," he and colleagues demonstrated the high returns on investment in higher education and the research spillovers that universities facilitate. DeVol is ranked among the "Super Stars" of Think Tank Scholars by International Economy magazine and appears on national television and radio programs, including Fox News, CNN's "Moneyline," "Wall Street Journal Report With Maria Bartiromo," "Bloomberg West," "Fox Business News," and CNBC. He is quoted in print media such as the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, Investor's Business Daily, Forbes, the Economist, Time, and others.
Joe Lee is a research analyst at the Milken Institute on the regional economics team. He specializes in labor economics with a focus on human capital and economic development. He is a co-author of the State Technology and Science Index as well as the California extension of this report and the 2016 edition of "Best-Performing Cities U.S." He is currently working on the New Skills at Work initiative. Before joining the Institute, Lee was a lab instructor at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) in the Department of Economics and was a part of Amazon's supply chain execution team in Seattle. He received his master's in economics from CSULB and graduated from the Evergreen State College with a dual major in economics and finance, minoring in mathematics.
Minoli Ratnatunga is an economist and associate director of research at the Milken Institute and leads its regional economics research. With her team, she investigates the key economic development issues facing regions, including competitiveness, fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, and building human capital. Her publications include "California's Innovation-Based Economy: Policies to Maintain and Enhance It," "State Technology and Science Index 2016," "Regional Performance Over Time: Thriving and Reviving Amid Economic Challenges," 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 improving the competitiveness of and quality of life in the Pittsburgh region. 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. She also led the economic impact study practice, managing the production of research reports that captured the importance of strategic industries and projects to the Pennsylvania economy. Ratnatunga has a bachelor's degree in philosophy and economics from the London School of Economics and a master's in public policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University.