Dr. Jay Walsh

Vice President for Economic Development and Innovation

University of Illinois System


Partnership opportunities

Reasons for joining the program:
I lead the Illinois initiative to stand up 15 specialized innovation centers to address the local economic needs, from urban to peri-urban to rural communities, and inclusive of hard science and social science technologies and systems that address the needs of industry while providing pathways for economic security for every community. This initiative includes a collaboration of the 12 public four-year universities and three additional hubs as a new model of inclusiveness focused on community equity. Hub focus areas align with following themes: • Computing and data; • Food and agriculture; • Environment and water; and • Health and wellness. • Key Industry Clusters of focus include: • Agribusiness & AgTech; • Clean Tech; • Energy; • Information Technology; • Life Sciences & Healthcare; • Manufacturing; and • Transportation & Logistics. I am interested in learning about international initiatives and developing partnerships with similarly sized communities. The initiative includes local, regional, state, and international partnerships that would be of mutual benefit to expand trade and investment across the Americas. 

The University of Illinois System is the state’s largest and most comprehensive public university with universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, and Springfield. The U of I System’s three institutions offer over 500 academic programs to more than 80,000 students. The University of Illinois Chicago campus supported ACE 3. I propose extending the support of the statewide network to ACE participants, including technical assistance, expertise, regional networks, research collaboration opportunities, and invitations to participate with our incubators, accelerators and business centers on an individual basis. We believe our diverse small to large and rural to urban experiences would enhance knowledge exchanges.

Main areas of work:

Nicole Griensewic

Executive Director

Region Nine Development Commission in Minnesota


Griensewic has served as Executive Director of Region Nine Development Commission since 2012. As executive director, Griensewic has made it a priority to foster collaboration and engagement by sharing Region Nine’s story both regionally and globally. Griensewic is an active board and committee member for multiple organizations throughout Minnesota. Griensewic is the immediate past President of the Greater Minnesota Partnership, and is the first female to chair the Executive Committee for the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies, where she served as chair of the Governance Committee. Griensewic also served as secretary of Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota’s Governing Board of Directors and chaired the Governance Committee and currently serves as an advisory board member for South Central College’s Center for Agriculture. She serves on the executive committee for the MACS Board, Minnesotans for the American Community Survey Board of Directors and represents the Midwest on the National Assoc. of Development Orgs.’s (NADO) Board of Directors.

Griensewic is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and has completed course work through Harvard’s Kennedy School’s Executive Education. She received the 2017 Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Her professional background includes extensive private sector and non-profit leadership experience.