Will Indiana be a player?

Author:Jischke, Martin C.
Position:Brief Article

Indiana's public universities are ready to take our state to the next level.

As the new president of Purdue University, I've been visiting communities around the state, listening to our business and legislative leaders. The message I'm receiving is very consistent: Business, universities and government must develop an integrated approach to promoting economic development in Indiana.

What are the challenges? Technology has transformed the manufacturing sector, upon which Indiana depends more than any other state.

In addition, the growth in Indiana's economy is moving from manufacturing to high-tech, knowledge-based industry.

Purdue has put forward an ambitious plan based on a report by a legislative study committee and the Indiana Economic Development Council. Under the proposal, we would:

* Develop technology centers around the state, modeling them after the highly successful Technology Center at the Purdue Research Park. These regional technology centers, fed by the research and technical expertise available from the university, would become the incubators of new ideas.

* Help faculty move their discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace by providing financial and technical assistance. The fledgling 21st Century Research and Technology Fund, which the state set up in 1998, has invested $50 million to foster the growth of new innovations. Other neighboring states, however, are investing much more. We should consider a significant increase in that investment for the next biennium.

* Expand the Purdue Technical Assistance Program to reach more existing and developing Indiana businesses with the expertise to solve technical problems, improve management practices, create opportunities and grow. Since the TAP program began 14 years ago, it has generated almost $60 million in capital investments and saved or created almost 4,000 jobs. We can do more by expanding TAP on a regional basis--creating eight new sites and expanding three others.

* Help communities design strategic plans for economic development, especially in predominantly rural areas. Our university faculty and extension agents have the...

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