The Indiana University Council for Regional Engagement and Economic Development, or CREED, had a daylong summit April 3 on the IU Bloomington campus.
Bill Stephan, IU’s vice president for engagement, began the meeting by introducing IU President Michael A. McRobbie. Stephan noted that IU has grown and developed since McRobbie’s tenure started in 2007. Among the examples he shared were the creation of several schools and the construction of several buildings, including Luddy Hall in Bloomington and the Arts & Sciences Building at IU Northwest.
McRobbie welcomed the attendees to Bloomington, thanking them for their work in strengthening people’s lives across the state and encouraging them to maximize their effect. He also noted that the university is doing extremely well on its investments in the Grand Challenges Program, and that there is widespread understanding about the importance of protecting, supporting, developing and commercializing the university’s intellectual property.
Bill Brown, director of the IU Center for Rural Engagement, provided an overview of the center’s structure and its work. It began with the Southwest Central Indiana Strategic Plan, funded by Lilly Endowment Inc.: One of the recommendations made in the plan was to create the center.
“The mission of the IU Center for Rural Engagement is to improve Hoosier lives and communities. Among our key priorities are health and wellness, entrepreneurship and economic development, and creating sustainable communities,” Brown said. “Our personnel are developing methods of listening and engaging with communities. This is among the most important things we’ll do: to truly listen and not assume what people’s needs are.”
Fifteen projects have been identified in Lawrence County, the first community working with the center. The projects will engage more than 500 IU students in 20 courses and will focus on many issues, including addiction, community gardens, civic and financial literacy, city gateways, the Highway 55 bypass, and Hoosier National Forest Dark Sky Designation.
After Brown’s presentation, Stephan and IURTC President and CEO Tony Armstrong spoke about the newly launched $15 million IU Philanthropic Venture Fund. Armstrong noted that the fund gives IU personnel an opportunity to engage with alumni, their technology expertise and their network.
Stephan noted that the university will soon open a Global Gateway in Mexico City, the first established by the university in Latin America. He also encouraged CREED attendees to participate in the Education-to-Employment Convergence Power Breakfast on April 24 in Indianapolis, an event organized by IU and the Indianapolis Business Journal.
Jack Hess of CivicLab and John Burnett of the Community Education Coalition facilitated a discussion about CREED’s future strategic directions. Attendees worked in smaller groups to discuss challenges faced by communities, regions and the state, and then reported their solutions to the larger group.
Trevor Foughty, IU’s director of government relations and communication, provided attendees with an overview of the 2018 legislative session, summarizing some of the bills that will have an impact on the university.
“CREED has a role to play in sharing the story about the return on investment of higher education — how we address the needs of the state and how we connect graduates with jobs. It is important to tell the story in a unified way,” Foughty said. “The more IU Bloomington, IUPUI and the regional campuses can relate their engagement stories with IU Government Relations, the better it will serve everybody.”
Timothy Slaper, director of economic analysis at the Indiana Business Research Center, followed with a presentation about a regional economic development project for the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Slaper said the project involves developing a new modeling approach integrating data science to enhance the precision of regional economic development policy decision-making. The project will require incorporating unconventional data collected from social media and difficult-to-access data sources.
Deliverables for the project include models and tools, research results, new data sources and a user-friendly portal for practitioners to explore economic development strategy outcomes.
David Gard, assistant vice president for economic development at IU, spoke about the soon-to-launch web site that will show IU’s impact across all 92 Indiana counties. The site is a partnership between IU Government Relations, the IU Alumni Association, Innovate Indiana and the IU Bicentennial.
“Launched in either late May or early June, it will show IU’s impact on the state — not just in regards to research and students, but with purchasing, wages and more,” Gard said. “County data included in phase one of the website will include total purchases, the number of IU employees, taxable wages, student enrollment by campus, degrees completed by campus, the number of living alumni, donor information and more.”
CREED approved a $2,500 Regional Economic Development, or RED, Fund grant for an all-day workshop hosted by the National Academy of Sciences on the IUPUI campus. The event, titled “Advancing Economic Development and Workforce Readiness in Micropolitan Areas,” is co-sponsored by the IU Public Policy Institute. The workshop will highlight Indiana as a case study on challenging economic development and workforce issues facing Indiana’s smaller communities. It will explore the challenge and opportunities for expanding innovation-led job growth and economic dynamism to encompass a greater diversity of communities across the state and the nation.
With no further business, the meeting was adjourned. The next CREED meeting is scheduled for June 20.