The Economic Development Administration’s University Center (UC) grant creates an opportunity to address statewide economic challenges by establishing a strategy to produce place-based solutions to the state’s economic needs and position small businesses for recovery and resiliency. The Kean Center for Business/Workforce Development, Innovation & Social Entrepreneurship will focus on the EDA priorities of Innovation/Small Business Recovery and Resiliency, Entrepreneurship and Commercialization, and Workforce Development in Manufacturing. The U.C. will engage all aspects of the University’s expertise along with long-standing community partners to ensure the best economic development and sustainability outcomes and impacts across the State and targeted communities. The UC will lead the state in leveraging current investments to enhance small business resilience (given the impact of unpredictable occurrences such as COVID 19), social entrepreneurship, workforce development and agribusiness development, with a focus on public policy analysis and applied research. Our proposed regional approach and innovative Economic Development Zone methodology will enable the UC to leverage government, nonprofit, corporate and university resources to strengthen the economic base of urban communities.