BENTONVILLE, Ark.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jul 31, 2018--With innovation as a linchpin to growth in today’s economy, the Walton Family Foundation released new rankings of the Heartland states’ participation and preparedness in the innovation economy. Of the 19 Heartland States, Minnesota ranked highest in the measurement, whereas Arkansas ranked last. Read the research here.

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The Walton Family Foundation released new research ranking the 19 American Heartland states on their preparedness and participation in the innovation economy, with Minnesota ranking at the top and Arkansas in need of more investment. Source: Milken Institute

“Innovation is the connective tissue needed to economically compete and thrive at the local and state levels,” said Ross DeVol, lead researcher and a Fellow at the Walton Family Foundation. “Our research shows that technology and innovation is absolutely necessary for communities to thrive and have outlined strengths and weaknesses as well as mapped out ways to close the economic gap between the Heartland and the coastal states. Investing more in Science, Technology, Education and Mathematical (STEM) occupations and creating more post-secondary graduates are critical policy areas.”

DeVol used the State Technology and Science Index (STSI), which he helped create at the Milken Institute and the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation’s (ITIF) State New Economy Index to augment the rankings. The STSI measures states’ participation and preparedness in the innovation economy through several key indicators, including: Research and Development Inputs; Risk Capital and Entrepreneurial Infrastructure; Human Capital Investment; Technology and Science Workforce; and Technology Concentration & Dynamism.

DeVol’s recent research defined the New American Heartland based on the four U.S. Census Bureau’s regions and includes the East North Central (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin); West North Central (Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota); East South Central (Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi); and West South Central (Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana).

DeVol’s research is part of a one-year tenure at the foundation, where he will assess opportunities for regional innovation ecosystems that foster job creation, wage gains and economic growth for Middle America residents. Learn more about DeVol here.

About the Walton Family Foundation

The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. The children and grandchildren of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities. We work in three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. In 2017, the foundation awarded more than $535 million in grants in support of these initiatives.

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SOURCE: Walton Family Foundation

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PUB: 07/31/2018 08:00 AM/DISC: 07/31/2018 08:01 AM