Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in Indiana University Kokomo’s regional town hall held on May 23. Hosted by Chancellor Michael Harris, this forum convened over 60 north central Indiana leaders to discuss the impact of IU Kokomo on both the region and the state. Paul Umbach, president of Tripp Umbach,a leading national provider of economic impact research, presented the “Economic Engine for North Central Indiana” report. Umbach explained the impact of IU Kokomo reaches far beyond the $52.1 million generated annually as the campus stands out as a clear leader in paving the way for higher education institutions to become more actively engaged in the economic and social well-being of the communities they serve.
“The role of this campus is absolutely critical to the future well-being of this region,” said Bill Stephan, IU vice president for engagement. “The data will affirm the significance of that point.” In addition to the $52.1 million yearly impact of IU Kokomo, the report attributes another positive effect to the health care professionals serving local hospitals and medical providers who graduated from IU Kokomo’s School of Nursing and Division of Allied Health. IU Kokomo plays another significant role through volunteerism and service projects that collectively impact the local community by $3.4 million per year.
Chancellor Harris believes IU Kokomo will continue to lead north central Indiana in transforming the region’s economic prospects and growth, highlighting to what he refers as the region’s unique “Triple Helix,” an effective 3-way collaboration between education, business, and government. “Successful regions have a collaborative Triple Helix. Wherever it works well, that region is ahead,” said Harris. “It’s up to the regional leadership to make sure that we create and sustain a collaborative environment despite structural and other obstacles. I do believe the future is in abundance, because we are facing a new economy of knowledge based on innovation and entrepreneurship. We should master this opportunity.”