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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.

The center's 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.


The CREST provided relevant, robust and valuable research, data and recommendations for our updated Economic Development Strategic Plan. From helping us find the right steering committee members to deep dive sessions into the 5 pillars that our community focused on – CREST gave our stakeholders a voice and platform to address community needs. Clayton County is well into the implementation phase of this great Plan and we are appreciative of our partnership with CREST and Clayton State University. 

Erica Rocker - Economic Development Director

Clayton County Board of Commissioners


The CREST Team is a great community asset lead by a great staff. I enjoyed their focus, attention to the details and professionalism. The CREST Team made sure all members of our various work teams were engaged in the results of their research.

Larry W. Vincent - Executive Director

Development Authority of Clayton County


Community Engagement Projects

A Survey Study on COVID-19’s Impact on the Businesses in Clayton, Fayette, and Henry Counties:

  • Funded through the HEERFIII Institutional Funds grant in the amount of $40,000
  • Project team: PI – Reza Kheirandish; co-investigators – Iryna Hayduk, Md Rokonuzzaman, and Anthony Hannah

Labor Market Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Clayton County

  • Funded through the HEERFIII Institutional Funds grant in the amount of $20,000
  • Project team: PI – Iryna Hayduk; co-investigators – Reza Kheirandish and Anthony Hannah

COVID-19’s Impact on Clayton County’s Human Capital and Productivity Growth Profile

  • Funded through the HEERFIII Institutional Funds grant in the amount of $20,000
  • Project team: PI – Brian Hunt; co-investigators – Reza Kheirandish and Melva Robertson

Reducing Building Vacancy Rates and Mitigating Agriculture Supply Chain Disruption through Vertical Farming Investments in Clayton County’s Transportation and Warehousing Industry

  • Funded through the HEERFIII Institutional Funds grant in the amount of $20,000
  • Project team: PI – Brian Hunt; co-investigators – Craig Hill and Marsha Anderson

Manifesting Proactive Smart Growth: Integrating Potential for Social, Environmental and Energy Resilience

  • Collaborative project with GA Tech’s Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development (CQGRD) and Henry County
  • Funded by The Partnership for Inclusive Innovation
  • CREST representative: Iryna Hayduk

AEROATL Workforce Needs Assessment

  • Funded by Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance in the amount of $10,000
  • Project team: PI – Iryna Hayduk; co-investigators – Brian Hunt and Aloysius Amin

Clayton County Strategic Economic Development Plan

  • Sponsored by the Development Authority of Clayton County in the amount of $75,000.
  • The project was featured in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, as well as in the Laker Connection, and Business Matters.
  • Project team: Iryna Hayduk, Brian Hunt, Reza Kheirandish, Russell Spears, and Vinod Vincent
  • 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 was comprised of 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, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance, Clayton County Housing Authority, Clayton County Library System, and small business sector.

Fayette Workforce Needs Assessment

Experiential Learning Projects

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.

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.

Dr. Anthony Hannah Headshot

Anthony Hannah, DBA, is an Assistant Professor of Accounting at the Clayton State University College of Business. Dr. Hannah serves on the different committees at the department, college, and university level and is the faculty advisor to the Accounting Club. Dr. Hannah serves the community as Faculty Director of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, serving Clayton, Fayette, Henry, and other surrounding counties for over 31 years. Dr. Hannah's research focuses on big data analytics and its influence on ethics, system selection and use, financial reporting, and management decision-making. Before joining academia Dr. Hannah, a Certified Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) consultant, served as Managing Consultant in the Technology Management Consultant (TMC) practice with RSM providing advisory and consulting services in the areas of financial and managerial accounting, data structuring, and reporting, strategy and change management, business process engineering and operational optimization to small and midsize enterprises. Anthony received his bachelor's degree in Accounting from Albany State University, MBA - Accounting from Saint Leo University, and a DBA –Accounting and Business Analytics from Jacksonville University.

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.

Melva Robertson

Melva Robertson is an Assistant Professor of Management in the College of Business at Clayton State University. Her research areas include themes around Leadership Development, Communications & Branding, and Organizational Behavior. Prior to joining Clayton State University, Dr. Robertson served most of her career as a communications and public relations leader creating successful strategic plans that resulted in local, national, and global media coverage for universities and organization. She is experienced in crisis communications and has authored of two books. Dr. Robertson earned her doctorate degree in Strategic Leadership from Regent University, master’s degree in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University, and bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from Morris Brown College.

Craig Hill

Craig A. Hill, PhD, holds the Charles S. Conklin Endowed Chair and is a professor of Supply Chain Management in the College of Business at Clayton State University. His research interests are in the area of supply chain management, in particular production planning, contract manufacturing, supply chain collaboration, and as well as innovations in education. He has published in such journals as the International Journal of Production Economics, Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, Journal of Operations Management, IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management and the European Journal of Operations Management . He has over 10 years of industry management and consulting experience in the area of production management, productivity improvement, quality control, and production planning.