Rick Harper

Economist

Rick Harper's career as an economist began in 1979 at the Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina, where he was involved in all phases of various funded research projects. Rick received his Ph.D. in Economics from Duke University in 1989 and joined the UWF faculty that same year. He received his bachelor's degree from Guilford College in North Carolina.

Prior to coming to UWF, Rick lectured at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Other academic experience includes visiting appointments at ESSCA, in Angers, France, the University of Nottingham, England and University College, Cork, Ireland. His published scholarly research is largely in the area of government policy and its effect on the business environment.

Through UWF's Haas Center for Business Research and Economic Development, where he served as director, Rick worked with Florida businesses and government leaders on a variety of business research and economic development issues. He represented Northwest Florida on Governor Jeb Bush's Council of Economic Advisors from 2001 - 2006. He now serves as director of UWF's Office of Economic Development and Engagement.

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University of West Florida

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses his recent economic column, in which he details how sales data reflect seasonal ebb and flow of tourist traffic.

“That’s an important issue for Florida,” said Harper. He notes that the central and southern portions of the state, such as Miami, Naples, Sarasota and Punta Gorda, tend to attract their highest level of visitor traffic in the January through March/April time period.

University of West Florida

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses several recently announced economic developments in Northwest Florida.

In Pensacola, the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition announced that it’s ready to resume the planned expansion of its downtown research facility, after a near year-long delay due to the April 2014 flooding.

University of West Florida

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper provides analysis of Governor Rick Scott’s recommended education budget, the improving housing industry, and Visit Florida’s “Destination 2020” tourism plan.

In his "Keep Florida Working" budget plan for 2015-2016, Gov. Scott is proposing historic per pupil funding of $7,176, an increase of $50 over the previous record for fiscal year 2007-2008. 

University of West Florida

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper provides analysis of local job growth during last year, which he details in his latest bi-weekly economics column.

The headline is ‘Pensacola-area job growth was better than expected in 2014.’

“What was really good news is that for the most recent twelve months, we actually saw a 3,400 job increase,” said Harper. That’s an increase of about 2.1 percent, which is slightly above the national figure of 2.0 percent, and a bit below Florida’s rate of 3.0 percent.

University of West Florida

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the economic outlook for 2015.

“There’s, hopefully, a lot of good things in store,” said Harper.

University of West Florida

In this week’s Economic Report on WUWF, Dr. Rick Harper, discusses new initiatives from the University of West Florida Office of Economic Development and Engagement (OEDE) and Haas Center for Business Research and Economic Development. 

“There’s a lot of new things happening and among those is an effort to step up publicity that we generate about the sorts of things that we’re doing,” said Harper, who is director of OEDE.

University of West Florida

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper shares details from the November 2014 jobs report, updates the holiday shopping season, and reviews the summer tourism season in Northwest Florida.

The latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, released Dec. 5, shows that employment rose by 321,000 in November, compared with an average monthly gain of 224,000 over the prior 12 months.

University of West Florida

  In this week’s Economic Report on WUWF, Dr. Rick Harper discusses data on this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday shopping days, what's projected in the latest jobs report, and the hiring of a new economic development coordinator at the Haas Center.

In taking a closer look at Black Friday, holiday weekend sales dropped by eleven percent, relative to last year. The projection had been a growth in sales of 9-11%. Cyber Monday sales rose 8%.

University of West Florida

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the big holiday shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Of course, Black Friday is starting earlier, now on Thanksgiving Day for some retail outlets.

According to Harper, projections call for just a modest increase in retail sales on Black Friday 2014 over previous years. “If it were a healthy, robust economy, we’d expect to see maybe a five to seven percent increase in same store sales. But retail analysts are expecting to see less than that,” said Harper.

University of West Florida

  In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses a new matching grant program recently launched by his Office of Economic Development and Engagement at The University of West Florida.

“It’s an exciting time for our office, and hopefully for the region,” said Harper, executive director of the UWF OEDE.The initiative provides $1.5 million in matching grants to connect Northwest Florida businesses with research resources available through UWF.

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