It was following the eruption of the Arenas crater in 1985, that regional leaders in the coffee region in Colombia began to recognise both the weakness of the region to respond to its main problems related to economic and social development as well as the importance of research as a strategy to tackle these problems.
Thus, in 1986, CRECE was created with the means to provide constant support in the formulation of economic and social policies and programs, based on ongoing research on regional problems.

Initially, the work of the CRECE was aimed at detecting the productive possibilities of the region, with the basic purpose of helping the business activity of the department of Caldas, in Colombia. Over the years, however, there was a need to extend the scope of its activities to other aspects of development. In this way, the institution has gradually become a center of diagnosis, policy generation, and space for constant reflection on regional development.

Over the last years, CRECE has collaborated with projects that have emerged from a permanent agreement with the public and private sectors of the region and the country. In most cases, they have met specific research and information needs of the different public and private entities that have established agreements and contracts with CRECE, among which are: The Colombian National Coffee Growers Federation, Inter-American Development Bank (BID), World Bank, FEDEPALMA, FONADE, the Colombian Ministry of Social Protection, DNP, Departmental Committee of Coffee Growers of Caldas, Governor of Caldas, Mayoralty of Manizales, Interregional Committee of Caldas, UNDP and Infimanizales, and several other significant companies in the region.

Likewise, the permanent support that the center has received from COLCIENCIAS has been of high significance for the center and its work, With the accomplishment of these different studies and consultancies, CRECE has obtained important achievements, nowadays being recognised as an entity of strategic importance for the coffee region and for the country of Colombia itself.