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Center for Research on Economic Sustainability and Trends

The Center for Research on Economic Sustainability and Trends (CREST) conducts research on economic matters and development affairs in the South Atlanta Metro Area.

It particularly focuses on counties south of highway I-20 and contributes to the development process in these localities. CREST helps local governments and businesses to achieve economic growth by recognizing their challenges and identifying their strengths.

Center services include, but are not limited to, economic impact studies, basic economic data collection, trend analysis, and market studies. Clayton State University students who would like to advance their analytical abilities through participation in research projects can assist in CREST projects and programs to further their training and to gain valuable experience. The goals of the Center are well tied to the overall University and College of Business strategic initiatives related to student involvement and engagement, faculty development, and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) practitioner/research role expansion, globalization endeavors as well as understanding of diversity.


To assist local governments and business communities in the South Atlanta Metro Area with achieving their goals by conducting research on economic matters


  • To contribute to the economic growth and prosperity in the region by collaborating with other regional stakeholders.
  • To support faculty research in regional studies.
  • To encourage economic dynamism and innovation.

Community Engagement Projects

  1. Clayton County Strategic Economic Development Plan
    • The primary objective of this project is to identify effective economic development strategies that will capitalize on the County’s core strengths. The strategic plan will provide business leaders and government officials with implementable policies focusing on attracting and retaining businesses, enhancing the quality of the workforce, and improving the quality of life for all residents.
    • The project is sponsored by the Development Authority of Clayton County in the amount of $75,000.
    • Project team:
      • Iryna Hayduk, Assistant Professor of Economics and Director of CREST
      • Mr. Brian Hunt, Lecturer in Economics
      • Dr. Reza Kheirandish, Chair of the Department of Accounting, Economics, and Finance and Professor of Economics
      • Dr. Russell Spears, Lecturer in Economics/Business Analytics
      • Vinod Vincent, Assistant Professor of Management
    • The Economic Development Plan Steering Committee Co-Chairs:
      • Larry Vincent, Executive Director, Development Authority of Clayton County
      • Erica Rocker-Wills, Economic Development Officer, Clayton County Board of Commissioners
    • The Economic Development Plan Steering Committee is comprised of the representatives from the Development Authority of Clayton County, Clayton County Board of Commissioners, Clayton County Water Authority, Clayton County Public Schools/Board of Education, Clayton State University and Small Business Development Center, Clayton County Chamber of Commerce, Clayton County City Mayors/Officials, ATL airport, Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance, Clayton County Housing Authority, Clayton County Library System, and small business sector.
    • Steering Committee Retreats:
      • The first retreat was held on October 2nd, 2020
      • The second retreat was held on January 29th, 2021
      • The third retreat is scheduled for April 2nd, 2021
    • Task Forces
      • Small Business and Entrepreneurship
      • Education and Training
      • Labor, Employment, and Healthcare
      • Housing, Income Inequality, and Poverty Reduction
  2. Fayette Workforce Needs Assessment
    • The goal of this project is to assess whether out-of-county employment of the locals leads to a shortage of labor in Fayette County and to determine the training needs of employers. It identifies current labor market issues in Fayette County, highlights their causes, and offers possible solutions. Study findings are valuable for the local business community and county government because they have policy implications and shed light on aspects such as the profile of the current workforce, their housing, training, and development needs, to mention a few.
    • Principal investigator: Dr. Iryna Hayduk
    • The project was funded by the Fayette Chamber of Commerce in the amount of $10,000
    • The project was featured in AJC

Experiential Learning Projects

  1. Fayette Film Study
    • The goal of the film study is to evaluate the effect of film production companies on the economic development of Fayette County. Georgia offers very generous film incentive packages for the film studios and has the largest state credit program in the U.S. The high cost of this program warrants a rigorous evaluation of its effectiveness. Pinewood Atlanta Studios, located in Fayetteville, was built in 2014 and is the second largest film studio in the United States. It receives significant tax incentives from the local government authorities; therefore, it is important to assess whether the film industry benefits the local business community.
    • In Spring 2018, students enrolled in the Managerial Economics class collaborated with the Fayette Chamber of Commerce on surveying about 90 businesses in Fayette County and estimating the direct and indirect effect of Pinewood Atlanta Studios on the local economy.
  2. Cost of Living Index Project
    • The Cost of Living Index (COLI) is the main source of data for comparing living cost between different urban areas. It has been published by the Council for Community and Economic Research since 1968 and is recognized by the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the President’s Council of Economic Advisors. COLI is widely used by the job seekers, HR managers, academic researchers, site selectors, etc.
    • In Spring 2018, students enrolled in the Principles of Microeconomics class collaborated with the Fayette Chamber of Commerce on collecting the data on prices of goods and services consumed by a typical professional or managerial household in Fayette County. This information was used by the Council for Community and Economic Research to compute the Cost of Living Index for Fayette County.

Affiliated Faculty

Dr. Iryna Hayduk

Dr. Iryna Hayduk is an assistant professor of economics and the director of the Center for Research on Economic Sustainability and Trends (CREST) in the College of Business at the Clayton State University. Her research focuses on the labor economics issues and aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of the determinants of self-employment, the formation of soft skills, foster care challenges, and the consequences of mass layoffs. Dr. Hayduk has published scholarly articles in academic journals and has presented her research at the leading economic conferences. She is a recipient of the 2018 Professor of the Year Award that recognizes faculty who have made significant contributions in the areas of teaching, scholarship, and service in the College of Business. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Houston, and graduate and undergraduate degrees from Ukraine.

Brian Hunt

Mr. Brian A. Hunt earned his M.A. in Global Trade, Finance, and Economic Integration at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies. He has worked in international banking for Bank One and US Bank, and he has also served as a freelance analyst covering East and South East Asia for a number of geopolitical consultancies. From 2004-2019, Mr. Hunt served as an Economist and Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Economics at Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies in Atlanta, Georgia. Today Mr. Hunt serves as a Lecturer of Economics in Clayton State University’s College of Business and Economist in the College’s Center for Research on Economic Sustainability and Trends.

Reza Kheirandish

Reza Kheirandish is a Professor of Economics and the Chair of Department of Accounting, Business Law, Economics, and Finance in the College of Business at Clayton State University, Morrow, Georgia. He received his Ph.D. degree in Economics from Virginia Tech in 2008, his M.S. degree in Economics from Virginia Tech in 2000, and his B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology in 1994. Reza is a visiting scholar at Harding Center for Risk Literacy at Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin since September 2017. Reza served as the director of Center for Research in Economic Sustainability and Trends (CREST) in the College of Business at Clayton State University 2010-2015. He is a member of AEA, AIRLEAP, DSI, Herbert Simon Society, MEEA, SAM, SEA, SEDSI, SEINFORMS, and SGE. Reza has served as the faculty advisor of the Clayton State University chapter of SAM, 2010-2018 and as a co-advisor 2007-2009 & 2019. Reza has received “Professor of the Year” award in 2012, 2015, and 2017 “Research Professor of the Year” award in 2008 and 2014, and “Outstanding Service Award” in 2013 from the college of business at Clayton State University. He also has received “Outstanding Faculty Advisor” award from SAM in 2011, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Reza has been awarded the two-year “Bud and Mary Miller University Professorship” in 2014.

Russell Spears

Russell Spears joined the College of Business at Clayton State University in 2019. He has an MBA and Master’s in Policy and Economics from both California Southern University, Irvine and Columbus State University. He also has graduate work at Auburn University and is currently finishing his dissertation. He has worked for Fidelity Bank as an equities broker and multiple financial institutions as a commercial and retail banker and underwriter. His research interests are regional economic growth and development and he co-founded the Butler Center for Economic Research at Columbus State University, where he published multiple articles on crime, inequality, and economic development.

Vinod Vincent

Vinod Vincent, DBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is an Assistant Professor of Management at the Clayton State University’s College of Business. Dr. Vincent’s research interests include managerial cognition, intuition, decision-making, artificial intelligence, and HR topics such as employee selection. His research focuses on expanding our understanding of managerial decision-making in organizational environments. His teaching includes management principals, organizational behavior, strategic management, talent development, and entrepreneurship. Dr. Vincent has over 12 years of experience in the U.S. healthcare staffing industry where his expertise includes new business ventures, strategic management, business operations management, employee selection, performance management, and employee training and development. He also has international experience working in sales and marketing for the media industry in Sri Lanka. Dr. Vincent has a Doctor of Business Administration (Management) from Kennesaw State University and a Master of Business Administration (Marketing) from the University of Tampa.