Kevin Klowden is the executive director of the Milken Institute's Center for Regional Economics. He specializes in the study of key factors that underlie the development of competitive regional economies
(clusters of innovation, patterns of trade and investment, and concentration of skilled labor), and how these are influenced by public policy and in turn affect regional economies. On a national level, he is heavily involved in issues of capital access for small business, including serving as chair of the U.S. Department of Commerce's Trade Finance Advisory Council. He also helps to coordinate the Partnership for Lending in Underserved Markets initiative with the U.S. Small Business Administration, which focuses on funding for minority-owned small businesses. His areas of expertise include technology-based development, capital access, infrastructure, the global economy, media, and entertainment.
Klowden was the lead author of "Strategies for Expanding California's Exports," which examined the vital role trade and exports play in the state economy, and its underperformance relative to the country over the past decade. Further work on trade and investment has included "A Golden Opportunity with China: How California Can Become an Even Bigger Destination for Chinese Foreign Investment." He has also written on the role of transportation infrastructure in economic growth and job creation in reports such as "California's Highway Infrastructure: Traffic's Looming Cost" and "Jobs for America: Investments and Policies for Economic Growth and Competitiveness," as well as in publications including The Wall Street Journal. He has addressed the role of technology-based development in publications such as the "2014 State Technology and Science Index," "North America's High-Tech Economy," and location-specific studies on Arkansas and Arizona. In addition, Klowden was the lead author of several studies on the economics of the entertainment industry, including "New Skills at Work: Keeping Los Angeles at the Cutting Edge in an Evolving Industry," "A Hollywood Exit: What California Must Do to Remain Competitive in Entertainment—and Keep Jobs," "Fighting Production Flight: Improving California's Filmed Entertainment Tax Credit Program," "Film Flight: Lost Production and Its Economic Impact in California," and "The Writers' Strike of 2007-2008: The Economic Impact of Digital Distribution"—each of which analyzes the changing dynamics of the entertainment industry.
Klowden is a frequent speaker on state fiscal issues and has served on multiple advisory boards on business growth, economic development, and infrastructure. He holds graduate degrees from the University of Chicago and London School of Economics.
Joe Lee is a research analyst with the Milken Institute on the regional economics team. He specializes in labor economics with a focus in human capital and regional competitiveness.
At the Milken Institute, Lee has focused on how the U.S. has been impacted by changes in technology, geography, and opportunity. Lee's work has contributed to the Center for Regional Economics research on how human capital develops regional economic clusters in the U.S. He has a focus on commercializationof R&D, the development of local labor, and geographic mobility. He recently presented research at the 2018 Western Economic Association International conference where he showcased work on academic research and development of local high-tech labor.
Lee received his master's in economics from California State University, Long Beach, and his undergraduate degree is from The Evergreen State College.
Minoli Ratnatunga is an economist and the director of regional economics research at the Milken Institute Center for Regional Economics. With her team, she investigates the key economic development issues facing regions, including competitiveness, fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, and building human capital.
Ratnatunga's publications include "Concept to Commercialization: The Best Universities for Technology Transfer," "Building a Knowledge Economy—How Academic R&D Supports High-Tech Employment," "Regional Performance Over Time: Thriving and Reviving Amid Economic Challenges," and "California's Innovation-Based Economy: Policies to Maintain and Enhance It." She has also coauthored multiple editions of the State Technology and Science Index and the Best-Performing Cities series.
Before joining the Institute, she worked for eight years at the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, a regional economic development organization focused on the Pittsburgh area's competitiveness and quality of life. There she focused her research on energy policy, transportation and infrastructure funding, and state tax competitiveness, working with civic and business leaders to help key decision-makers make better policy choices. Ratnatunga has a bachelor's degree in philosophy and economics from the London School of Economics and a master's degree in public policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University.