The anticipated impact of $42 million in educational and economic development grants recently awarded by the Lilly Endowment toward initiatives in southwest central Indiana was readily apparent in Odon on Friday, March 4.
At WestGate Academy, adjacent to Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane, a collection of state and regional leaders that included IU President Michael A. McRobbie, IU Vice President of Engagement Bill Stephan, U.S. Sen. Joe Donnally and Indiana’s new Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb assembled to discuss how the various programs will take shape and help the region tap its unrealized potential.
A video of the afternoon’s proceedings is available below:
Initially announced in late December, these initiatives include:
- A $25.8 million grant toward a new, non-profit organization known as Regional Opportunity Initiatives Inc. (ROI), an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County (CFBMC), which will implement an education and workforce plan, as well as a regional development fund.
- A second grant of $16.2 million toward an Applied Research Institute near NSWC Crane. The institute initially will be led by advisers that include Crane representatives, as well as research universities throughout Indiana and other corporate and institutional partners.
- A third grant of $122,600 directed to the Indiana University Foundation to study the feasibility of establishing a “Rural Center of Excellence” at Indiana University to study and address the societal challenges that our rural communities face.
“I challenge you to find another part of the country that has the diversity of relevant industry sectors, the breadth of world-class assets like Crane and Indiana University, and a quality of life that embraces both the charms of small-town America and the sophistication of global manufacturing and technology,” said Tina Peterson, CFMBC president and CEO.
“To stand out nationally and claim our place as a center for innovation, talent, and possibility, we will work collectively as a region to achieve true economic and community prosperity that will benefit our 11 counties and the state of Indiana.”
Along with Stephan and Peterson, speakers at the event included Ian Steff, a consultant to the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP); Dan Peterson, vice president of Industry and Government Affairs for Cook Group Inc.; and ROI board chairman Matt Weinzapfl.
McRobbie and Holcomb took part in a panel discussion moderated by Gerry Dick, the creator and host of Inside INdiana Business. Additional panelists included Capt. Jeffrey “J.T.” Elder, commander of NSWC Crane; Becky Skillman, president and CEO of Radius Indiana; and Pete Yonkman, president of Cook Group, Inc.
More information about Friday’s conference is available in this Bloomington Herald-Times article.