KOKOMO, Ind. — Indiana University Kokomo’s role in the continued growth of north central Indiana took center stage at an IU Council for Regional Engagement and Development (CREED) meeting on campus.
Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke, Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight, and Morgan Young, facilitator for the Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities (CEO) program, all talked about how they’ve worked in partnership to grow the campus and community.
Bill Stephan, CREED chairman and IU vice president for engagement, said regional campuses are doing good work in regional development, but that IU Kokomo has shown how success is possible, even in a challenging economic environment.
“It is a model we need to replicate,” he said. “The reason IU Kokomo has done so well is the relationships it has developed, with a broad range of community partners. It’s clearly a best practice.”
IU Kokomo gained its downtown gymnasium in partnership with the City of Kokomo and the Kokomo Schools. Sciame-Giesecke said the gym allows the athletic programs to grow and attract more students to the campus. That improves the quality of life for area residents, a key factor for Goodnight.
“He’s continued to have a vision for the community like nobody has had before,” she said. “Mayor Goodnight has been a great partner to IU Kokomo.”
She also cited a partnership with Chrysler that makes internships available to IU Kokomo students. Several of those students have accepted full time employment with the company after graduation, and stay in the community.
“They see a pathway from our campus to a good quality job,” she said. “That’s how we’re going to keep them here.”
On the city’s side, Goodnight said offering high quality of life amenities, such as walkable neighborhoods, parks, public transportation, and a variety of housing options, contributes to keeping young people in the community, and attracting others to not only work in Howard County, but live there too.
“The millennials are looking for an urban environment, walkable communities,” he said. “We have all of those assets. We’re looking at how to position Kokomo as a place where people want to live.”
Morgan Young leads efforts to prepare the next generation of the area’s economic leaders, as facilitator of the CEO program. Fourteen high school students participate in the program, visiting area businesses and learning how to be successful business developers, from area business owners.
IU Kokomo is one of the program’s sponsors, with a CREED Regional Economic Development (RED) fund grant. Sciame-Giesecke and School of Business Dean Alan Krabbenhoft are among the campus leaders who have interacted with the CEO students.
CREED meets four times per year, and includes members appointed by the chancellor of each regional campus. It provides a forum for discussing economic development issues and for sharing best practices in regional development.
The meeting in Kokomo was the first on a regional campus.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.