L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs



Elsie Harper-Anderson

Elsie Harper-Anderson

Associate professor, director of the Ph.D. program

Raleigh Building, Room 2010 B Phone: (804) 828-7390 Email: elharperande@vcu.edu


  • Economic development, workforce development, entrepreneurship, social and economic equity


B.S., Political Science, Lincoln University of Pennsylvania
M.S., Public Management and Policy, H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management, Carnegie Mellon University
Ph.D., City and Regional Planning, University of California, Berkeley


Urban economic development policy, foundations of development planning, economic geography, labor employment and the regional economy.

Research interests

The connection between economic development and workforce development, entrepreneurship as a tool for reducing economic and social disparity, entrepreneurial ecosystems, workforce policy.


Dr. Harper-Anderson’s research examines the impact of macroeconomic transformation on regional economies and urban labor markets with a focus on social equity and sustainability concerns. Her recent work focuses on understanding entrepreneurial ecosystems and their impact on building inclusive economies. Her other scholarship has focused on understanding and enhancing the connection between workforce development and economic development. She serves on the advisory board for the City of Richmond’s Office of Community Wealth Building. Prior to academia, her work included significant experience evaluating economic development, workforce development and housing programs for local, state and federal agencies such as DOL,  EDA and HUD.  Dr. Harper-Anderson has also worked as a practitioner administering federal housing and economic development programs at the local level. She teaches courses related to economic development, labor markets and urban development policy.  Harper-Anderson is the recipient of the 2016 Wilder School Excellence in Teaching Award.

Selected publications

Harper-Anderson, Elsie L. (Forthcoming, May 2018) Intersections of Partnership and Leadership in Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: Comparing three U.S. regions, (Accepted, Economic Development Quarterly).

Harper-Anderson, Elsie L., (2017) Contemporary Entrepreneurship: Intersections of business formation, work and race in Chicago. Urban Affairs Review, DOI: 1078087417712035.

Harper-Anderson, Elsie L. & Lewis, D.A. (2017) What Makes Business Incubation Work? Measuring the Influence of Incubator Quality and Regional Capacity on Incubator Outcomes, Economic Development Quarterly, DOI: 10.1177/0891242417741961.

Harper-Anderson, Elsie L. & Gooden, S. T. (2016). Integrating Entrepreneurship Services into Local Workforce Development Systems: Who is Doing It and How. Journal of Poverty, 20(3), 237-260.

Harper-Anderson, E. (2012). Exploring what greening the economy means for African American workers, entrepreneurs, and communities. Economic Development Quarterly, 26(2), 162-177.

Harper-Anderson, E. (2008). Measuring the Connection Between Workforce Development and Economic Development Examining the Role of Sectors for Local Outcomes. Economic Development Quarterly, 22(2), 119-135.

Harper-Anderson, Elsie L., (2008). Benchmarks and Barriers African American Experiences in the Corporate Bay Area's New Economy Sector of the 1990s. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 27(4), 483-498.

Harper-Anderson, Elsie, L. (2009) “Coming Together in Tough Economic Times: Workforce Development and Economic Development Move Closer in Michigan,” in Sustaining Michigan: Metropolitan Policies and Strategies, Richard Jelier, and Gary Sands, editors. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press.

Harper-Anderson, Elsie, & Myung Jin. “Return on Investment for Virginia’s Workforce Programs,” Policy report prepared for the Virginia Community College System,” April 2014. https://vlds.virginia.gov/media/1014/vcureturnoninvesment04032014final.pdf.

Lewis, David, Harper-Anderson, Elsie & Molnar, Lawrence. “Incubating Success Incubation Best Practices that Lead to Successful New Ventures,” Policy report prepared for the U.S. Economic Development Administration, October 2011. http://edaincubatortool.org/materials.html.