KOKOMO, Ind. – Continuing to lead the effort in regional transformation, Indiana University Kokomo Chancellor Michael Harris commissioned a metrics study of north central Indiana to gauge necessary steps needed to create a more competitive economy based on knowledge, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
To learn about the report and its benefits, more than 70 business, government, education, and cultural leaders participated in the first Regional Organizational Collaborative (ROC) on campus Monday (May 23).
“From day one, we believe at Indiana University Kokomo that we are an educational and economic force in the region, following the vision of IU President Michael McRobbie for regional campuses,” said Harris. “This study will allow us to compare, understand, and analyze data so ‘regionalism’ won’t be just a statement, but rather a measurement we can use in our plans to transform this region.”
Jerry Conover, director of the Indiana Business Research Center (IBRC) at Indiana University Kelley School of Business, explained how his research will help improve the economic conditions and quality of life in north central Indiana. Conover stated the benchmarking study will provide reliable data on performance, strengths and weaknesses, and comparisons to peer communities nationwide.
“You are all here today because you believe in the opportunities to regain greatness,” Conover said, adding that the study will focus on nine counties in the IU Kokomo service area. “Kokomo had great times in the past and led the state in average pay wages. But in the last few years, those numbers have gone down.”
Conover identified 13 peer communities east of Mississippi, which are comparable to this region and Kokomo in economic performance, economic performance trends, population and population trends, workforce concentration in manufacturing, and having a higher education facility. To keep regional leaders informed on the progress of his research, data will be published on a Web site and updated regularly.
Following Conover’s presentation, leaders met in small groups for a forum to discuss how the region can successfully transform. Ideas ranged from finding and building on a common strength among the counties in the region to hiring a person - using inn keepers tax and grant funds - to travel throughout the region, promoting region transformation.
“In order to ensure the American dream – and by this I mean that the quality of life tomorrow will be better than it is today in this region – we need to change how we do things,” said Harris. “We need to truly believe in the value of this region in order to succeed. IU Kokomo will continue to push and hold events, partnering and working on transforming the region with those committed to do this.
“We’re not inventing anything new today,” added Harris. “Each county in this region needs to have ownership for transformation to be successful. People support what they help to build.”
In October 2010, IU Kokomo adopted three themes – academic excellence and student success, making friends and establishing relationships, and transforming the region.Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.