Q&A with Alan Spell

Alan is an assistant extension professor in the Division of Applied Social Sciences.

Alan stands in front of a classroom. He is gesturing to something on the board behind him.
Alan is an assistant extension professor who specializes in economic development research.

What do you do in your current role with the University of Missouri?

I’m an assistant extension professor in the Division of Applied Social Sciences where I specialize in economic development research. Economic development is a broad topic but basically involves industry and workforce analysis and occasional contract work. I’m part of the MU Extension Exceed team and every few weeks we produce a newsletter and Missouri Economy Indicator brief that highlights important trends in our economy.

How long have you worked in this position?

I joined MU Extension in January 2020. Before Mizzou, I led the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) in state government.

What is your favorite part about the work you do?

I really enjoy analyzing data, working with other specialists, and helping folks use good information to drive decisions. I have been a researcher for over 25 years and know that the challenges of regional economic prosperity can seem daunting at times. Yet, it’s important that we keep trying things and evaluating what works.

A man smiles for a photo while sitting in a canoe. He is holding a paddle.
Alan enjoys exploring different parks in Missouri with his family.

How are you helping MU A&E Extension reach our #2xAg2030 goal?

A strong agricultural sector requires a robust, diverse economy surrounding it because most producers and their families have jobs off the farm. The projects I work on touch on the broader health of the regional economy and understanding of the connections between urban and rural communities.

What is something your CAFNR and MU Extension teammates may not know about you?

I love living in Missouri, but every couple of years my wife and I, along with our four kids, must get our beach fix. When we’re not taking a trip to the coast, we like visiting different parks in Missouri for camping or glamping.

What is your hometown, place of high school graduation and degrees/universities?

My hometown is Lexington, SC where I also graduated high school. I have a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of South Carolina and a master’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Georgia. I worked in Atlanta doing industrial site planning for several years after grad school, but when we moved to Missouri, I started a long career at the state’s economic development office and MERIC.