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Close-up: Lynn Reaser

Head of PLNU institute aims to provide objective economic analysis

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The Fermanian Business and Economic Institute at Point Loma Nazarene University has only published three reports so far, but all of them have caused something of a stir.

First, there was a study on the economic impact of military construction spending, then a look at the cost of different potential sources of water supply for San Diego County, and the third was an analysis of the economic potential of biomimicry.

The woman who is largely behind the reports is Lynn Reaser, who spent a career as a banking economist before moving to San Diego last year to head up the fledgling Institute. Reaser said the institute aims to provide thorough, objective analysis and potential solutions to sectors that either haven’t been studied, or haven’t been studied in this manner.

“We are not a think tank, we are not an academic research institute, but rather a provider of very objective, economic analysis with very practical conclusions,” she said. “We wanted any studies not to just be put on the shelf but to be used in the next 24 hours by various clients.”

Generally, the institute will undertake a study at the behest of an organization that wants analysis but doesn’t have an in-house economic staff. However, the institute can also look at topics that Reaser and the rest of the staff find interesting. Reaser said she found the study on the economic impact of the military, done in partnership with the San Diego Military Advisory Council, to be one of the most revealing.

Lynn Reaser

“That is not captured, for instance, in any of the employment data,” she said of the military. “That is probably an area that is giving the region more support than anyone realizes.”

The institute’s study on water was an eye opener, Reaser said. She hadn’t realized how politically charged the issue was before doing the study, but while working on it, she realized passions were high on all sides. Ultimately, the study concluded that the region can’t solve its water challenges with just one solution, but must use a variety of sources, including desalination and conservation.

“What we wanted was an attempt to put apples and apples (side by side) and put up a level playing field for the consideration of different costs,” she said. “It actually provoked a kind of discussion and debate which we had anticipated and (study partner the) Equinox (Foundation) had anticipated that would draw out further studies and analysis down the road.”

Probably the most challenging study the institute has conducted, Reaser said, was the one on biomimicry, created in conjunction with the San Diego Zoo’s San Diego Zoo Global group. This was difficult because no one had ever done a comprehensive study of the economic impact of biomimicry, which is the practice of making products and innovations based on the natural world. With a strong life science and clean tech sector already in place, the zoo has made a push to make San Diego a hotbed for biomimicry, and the institute’s study showed it has huge potential.

The institute already has several more studies in the works, including on the economic impact of homelessness, and ways to make San Diego a leader in cyber security. Reaser could not reveal the institute’s partners on those studies yet.

A native of Pacific Palisades, Reaser is back in Southern California after having worked around the country as a banking economist for her whole career. She worked first for First Interstate Bank, which was later bought by Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), and then with Bank of America (NYSE: BAC).

She said that what she is trying to accomplish with the Fermanian Institute, and what she tries to impress upon her students, is that economics is a truly global subject, and that no industry -- or region -- is an island.

“My view is that the economic puzzle is like one big, huge puzzle and that all the pieces link together,” she said. “Events in Singapore and New Jersey and London all interact and have enormous implications.”

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Point Loma Nazarene University, Fermanian Business Center

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3900 Lomaland Dr.
San Diego, CA 92106

Point Loma Nazarene University, Fermanian Business Center Executive(s):

Randy Ataide

  • Director

Lynn Reaser

  • Chief Economist

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