Skip to main content

Rick Harper PhD

Economic Advisor

Triumph Gulf Coast

Rick Harper received his BA in Economics from Guilford College in 1978, and an MA in 1986 and a PhD in 1989, both in Economics from Duke University. Rick worked as a professional economist from 1980 – 1984 at Research Triangle Institute in Research Triangle Park, NC, and at the University of West Florida (UWF) from 1989 until retiring in 2017. From 1996 – 2011 (except sabbatical and other time away) he served as Director of UWF’s Haas Center for Business Research and Economic Development, conducting numerous studies of the local, regional, and state economies and economic sectors. He then served as Executive Director of the UWF Office of Economic Development and Engagement, overseeing activities of the Haas Center and of the State Director’s Office of the Florida Small Business Development Center Network. 


Rick served as the Senior Policy Advisor for Economic Affairs for the Florida Senate from 2012 until 2014. In this capacity he had oversight responsibilities for several legislative committees, including Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations, Commerce and Tourism, Community Affairs, Military Affairs, and Gaming. After these two years, he returned to UWF as Assistant, then Associate, Vice President for Research and Economic Development and served as the University’s Chief Research Officer during 2015 and 2016. He has offered expert economics testimony in litigation and served as the economic expert for the State of Florida from inception until completion in its economic damages litigation with BP. Since retiring from UWF in 2017, Rick has served as the Economic Advisor to Triumph Gulf Coast, Inc., providing advice and support to the Triumph Board of Directors as it seeks to distribute $1.5 bn in Deepwater Horizon damages funds to projects that will grow and diversify the Northwest Florida economy.