KOKOMO, Ind. — Indiana University Kokomo's impact on the region and the state of Indiana reaches far beyond the yearly $52.1 million, and the campus stands out as a clear leader in paving the way for higher education institutions to take on a key role in the economic and social well-being of the communities they serve.
"I think IU Kokomo is way ahead of the curve in the way higher education is addressing needs and functioning," said Paul Umbach, president of TrippUmbach, the nation's leading provider of economic impact research who recently conducted a study for IU and IU Health. "So many universities and campuses are only beginning to establish their role (at economic development). IU Kokomo is way out front."
Umbach presented the "Economic Engine for North Central Indiana" report at a regional town hall meeting on Wednesday (May 23) that was hosted by IU Kokomo and Chancellor Michael Harris. About 60 regional leaders attended the event.
He explained the economic impact is annual, and that the report only counts the operations of IU Kokomo. In addition, the $52.1 million does not include other indirect impacts as a result of interactions with companies and businesses in the region generated by IU Kokomo. It also does not include the impact of graduates.
Bill Stephan, IU vice president for engagement, said he is confident in the numbers that reflect the campus' economic impact. He stated that he believes that IU Kokomo is vital to regional development and that it plays a significant role in leading the process and setting an exceptional state model. He expressed deep appreciation for the collaborative, innovative enthusiastic vision and practice of the campus led by the Chancellor.
"The role of this campus is absolutely critical to the future well-being of this region," Stephan said. "The data will affirm the significance of that point."
Another positive effect on the region are the health care professionals in local hospitals and medical providers who graduated from IU Kokomo's School of Nursing and Division of Allied Health. "This work force is critical to north central Indiana's health and well-being," Umbach said.
Another significant role the campus plays in the community is through volunteerism and service projects – to the tune of $3.4 million per year.
"We are committed to our three themes – Academic Excellence and Student Success, Building Relationships and Making Friends, and Transforming the Region," Chancellor Harris said. "We educate world-class graduates and eighty percent of our graduates stay in the region. As higher education evolves, we see our role as 'stewards of place', which means that we believe we have a public responsibility to serve as a catalyst and place to convene people and bring them together to facilitate economic growth and quality of life."
Chancellor Harris believes IU Kokomo will continue to lead north central Indiana in transforming the region, along with businesses, industries, and city, county, state, and federal governments – also known as the Triple Helix.
"Successful regions have a collaborative Triple Helix. Wherever it works well, that region is ahead," Harris said. "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"
Chancellor Harris stated that "IU Kokomo's efforts to drive economic success in the communities it serves is in line with IU President Michael McRobbie's vision for regional campuses."
Following Paul Umbach's presentation he facilitated an open discussion to brainstorm ideas on ways communities, businesses and higher education can collaborate in a regional manner. A document will be compiled with comments from today's meeting and distributed to all who attended to use as a guide for future discussions.
"We must continue to develop a regional mindset," Harris said. "There is much work to do and many opportunities will follow."
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.