Rex LaMore

Rex LaMore

Director, Center for Community and Economic Development


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Rex LaMore is director of Michigan State University’s Center for Community Economic Development and a member of the faculty of the Urban and Regional Planning Program. Dr. LaMore has over 35 years of experience in community and economic development and has focused his career on the unique challenges of revitalizing distressed communities and policies and practices related to promoting equitable and sustainable development.

LaMore provides leadership in a number of federal, state, foundation, and privately funded research and outreach partnerships. He is the founding director of the US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration University Center at Michigan State University, established in 2011 to co-create, disseminate, and apply innovative economic development tools, models, policies, and practices (see in distressed communities. He is also the founder of the “science of domicology,” a fundamentally new conception of the built environment and the life cycle of structures. Domicologists:

  • Examine the life cycle continuum of building and infrastructure use and abandonment from planning, design, construction, building use, abandonment, and demolition/deconstruction to material reuse
  • Identify potential innovative tools, models, policies, practices, and programs that can sustainably address structural abandonment
  • Conduct research on the technical, economic, and policy challenges present in structural abandonment and seek to reduce the negative social, economic, and environmental impacts associated with structural abandonment

In addition to directing the Center LaMore has conducted numerous feasibility studies including the state’s first automotive bio-manufacturing feasibility study. His current research is focused on unique community and economic development areas, including ending the practice of private property abandonment, the role of arts and culture in entrepreneurial creative capacity, and sustainability in community planning and development. His instructional roles include teaching honors sections in MSU’s Honors College, environmental planning, and co-teaching MSU’s Urban Planning Field Practicum course for undergraduate and graduate students. A number of his publications, research reports, and handbooks are available at

As the architect of the 1992 Outreach Partnership Act with Senator Don Riegle of Michigan, LaMore’s work has affected the nature of university/community partnerships nationwide. In 1995 he was the national recipient of the Community Development Society’s Distinguished Service Award, in recognition of his leadership and sustained commitment to excellence in community development. In 2008 he received the prestigious Educator of the Year Award from the Michigan Economic Developers Association and in 2011 was recognized by his peers at Michigan State University as a University Distinguished Academic Specialist.

LaMore is currently serving as vice chairperson for the Michigan Association of Planning and is the president elect for 2016-2017. He is the past chairperson and current vice-chairperson of the Williamstown Township Planning Commission, which recently adopted the state’s first “green zone” land use classification. This innovative zoning classification is designed to preserve environmental, social, and economic sustainability along a segment of the historic Grand River corridor.

LaMore received his BS and MS degrees at Michigan State University and his PhD from the University of Michigan.

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Recent Publications

LaMore, R., Wu, M., Berghorn, G. (2015, July). A green approach to ending structural abandonment in communities. Proceedings from the 52nd International Making Cities Livable Conference, Bristol, UK.

LaMore, R., Root-Bernstein, R., (2013). Arts and crafts: Critical to economic innovation. Economic Development Quarterly, 27, 221.

Root-Bernstein, R., LaMore, R., (2013). Arts, crafts and STEM innovation: A network approach to understanding the creative knowledge economy. In M. Rushton (Ed.), Creative communities: Art works in economic development (pp.97-117). Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.

Recent Presentations

  • (April 2016)

    Advancing the Science of Domicology

    LaMore, R.

    Presented at the Interdisciplinary Faculty Research Forum

    East Lansing, Michigan

  • (July 2015)

    A green approach to ending structural abandonment in communities

    LaMore, R., Wu, M., & Berghorn, G.

    Presented at the 52nd International Making Cities Livable Conference

    Bristol, United Kingdom

  • (January 2014)

    Capacity building for sustained change

    LaMore, R., Melcher, J., & Doberneck, D. M.

    Graduate Certification in Community Engagement, Michigan State University

    East Lansing, Michigan

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Current Projects

Past Projects