University, Lawrence County Economic Growth Council announce partnership

August 21 2007

BEDFORD - Indiana State University and the Lawrence County Economic Growth Council today (Aug. 21) announced the creation of a new economic development and educational partnership.

Building on the success of a community learning center Indiana State has administered for the past 10 years, the Lawrence County Sycamore Initiative is aimed at diversifying the economy of south-central Indiana in an effort to meet the competitive challenges of the 21st century, ISU and LCEGC officials said.

“Lawrence County and Indiana State University work very well together and it is time to build upon this special relationship,” said Gene McCracken, LCEGC executive director. “The Lawrence County Sycamore Initiative will build not only on Indiana State’s longstanding reputation for excellence in education, including workforce development, but will also tap into its growing reputation for community partnerships and economic innovation.”

The new initiative will focus on collaboration in three main areas:

• Development of a Certified Technology Park
• Build on the strengths of the Community Learning Center of Lawrence County - not only in the area of workforce development but also to create a stronger, more vibrant level of entrepreneurship.
• Develop an aggressive Federal relations strategy.

“Lawrence County holds a special place in my heart. During my first days in office as president of Indiana State University, I made the point of visiting Lawrence County because of the great work that was being accomplished through ISU and the learning center in this community,” said ISU President Lloyd W. Benjamin III.

“Since the founding of the learning center a decade ago, enrollments have steadily increased and thousands of south-central Indiana residents have completed university degrees or have expanded their job skills. Building upon this success, we believe more can and should be done to help grow the economic development opportunities of Lawrence County,” Benjamin said.

“The Sycamore Initiative is a first-of-its-kind collaboration that recognizes the interrelationship of lifelong learning via the Learning Center, fostering entrepreneurship through a business Incubator, and competing in the 21st century economy through a Technology Park,” said state Rep. Eric Koch.

“This initiative leverages Lawrence County\'s existing assets, using the resources and expertise of Indiana State University. Those assets include our proximity to NSWC Crane, the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, and Camp Atterbury; our traditional manufacturing expertise; state incentives created by legislation passed in 2006, and our existing relationship with ISU through the Learning Center,” said Rep. Koch.

“The Sycamore Initiative will target - but not be limited to - the defense, aerospace, and homeland security industries, and will ensure a highly skilled local workforce, create a positive climate for entrepreneurship, and provide a platform for companies engaged in research, development, and advanced manufacturing,” said Rep. Koch.

ISU has made community engagement the cornerstone of a strategic plan called “Pathways to Pre-eminence.” As one of Indiana’s four research universities, it is in a unique position to be the leader in state-wide community engagement, Benjamin said.

“We provide innovation every day through our aggressive, applied research agenda. We are large enough to make a great impact on the state, but small enough, flat enough, and nimble enough to be able to assist communities in ways that larger institutions find difficult to do,” Benjamin said.

“We share Lawrence County’s hunger for a better tomorrow. By making the decisions to be innovative today, we will all have a role to create the economic opportunities that will prevent a brain drain.”

Photo
Planning for the future ISU joined Lawrence County officials Aug. 21 in announcing the Lawrence County Sycamore Initiative, a new educational partnership aimed at diversifying the economy of South-Central Indiana. Pictured (left to right) are Bret Hawkins, director of South Central Educational Alliance, which includes the Community Learning Center of Lawrence County; ISU President Lloyd W. Benjamin III; Greg Goode, special assistant to the president for external relations, ISU; state Rep. Eric Koch; and Gene McCracken, executive director, Lawrence County Economic Growth Council. (Teresa Exline/ISU)

Contacts: Gene McCracken, executive director, Lawrence County Economic Growth Council, (812) 275-4493 or economic@hcisp.com; Greg Goode, special assistant to the president for external relations, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3569 or ggoode@isugw.indstate.edu; Rep. Eric Koch, (812) 279-6367 or H65.in.gov

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3743 or dave.taylor@indstate.edu

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Story Highlights

Indiana State University and the Lawrence County Economic Growth Council announce creation of the Lawrence County Sycamore Initiative. The initiative is aimed diversifying the economy of south-central Indiana in an effort to meet the competitive challenges of the 21st century.

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