Ellen D. Harpel, Ph.D.

Ellen Harpel is the founder of Smart Incentives (www.smartincentives.org), which helps state and local governments make sound decisions throughout the economic development incentives process. Launched in 2013, Smart Incentives works with communities to implement policies that enable them to achieve their development goals while making smart fiscal and economic decisions. Smart Incentives is also at the forefront of efforts to develop better processes for monitoring compliance and evaluating the effectiveness of incentive programs. Ellen speaks and writes frequently on incentive policies and programs for national audiences comprising economic developers, elected officials and finance professionals.

Ellen is also president of Business Development Advisors LLC (BDA), an economic development and market intelligence consulting firm. BDA works with economic development leaders at the local, state and national levels to increase business investment and job growth in their communities.

Prior to founding Smart Incentives and BDA, Ellen was a manager with the professional services firm Deloitte & Touche, where she advised economic development organizations on business attraction, growth and retention strategies. She also served as an Associate with Charles Percy & Associates, an international business advisory firm in Washington, DC, where she worked with US companies to expand their markets overseas. She has also worked with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Home Builders.

Dr. Harpel is a Senior Research Fellow with the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness and an affiliate with the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University. She is Vice Chair of the Alexandria Arlington Regional Workforce Council and serves on the Council’s Executive Committee. Dr. Harpel earned a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, a Master of Business Administration from the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School, and a doctoral degree from George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government.