October 17, 2002
Northwest Indiana breaks ground for high-tech incubator
MERRILLVILLE, Ind. Construction officially began today (Thursday, 10/17) on northwest Indiana's first business incubator, built with federal funds acquired by Indiana Congressman Pete Visclosky and supported by Purdue University's high-tech, entrepreneurial expertise.
Officials hope that the incubator in Lake County will be the first of many regional incubators to power economic development throughout the state.
"High-paying jobs come from high-tech ideas" was the theme for the groundbreaking ceremony held on land south of Merrillville (west of I-65 and bounded by the interstate, 93rd Avenue, 101st Avenue and Broadway). The land is owned by the Purdue Research Foundation.
"What we are celebrating today is a new vision of economic development and prosperity for all of northwest Indiana," said Purdue President Martin C. Jischke. "It is a new vision of opportunities that will keep our most talented people in this area, contributing to the strength and life of communities and the future of our state."
The high-tech incubator to be called the Purdue Technology Center of Northwest Indiana will cost approximately $6 million to build and $1 million to operate during the center's four-year start-up phase. The center will be modeled after a successful program at the Purdue Research Park, located near Purdue's West Lafayette campus, that hosts the largest, university-affiliated business incubation complex in the country.
Purdue officials and Visclosky agreed to work together to establish the state's first federally subsidized business incubator after a similar plan (House Enrolled Act No. 1424) failed to gain budgetary support from state legislators last year.
"I have worked very hard to line up funding for this project because it will bring high-quality, good-paying jobs to northwest Indiana," Visclosky said. "This high-technology business incubator will give our area's bright young people a chance to find the jobs they want right here at home, rather than having to leave the area or the state.
"It will be an engine for the economic growth that our region desperately needs," Visclosky added. "I strongly commend Purdue and President Jischke for their vision in locating their first subsidiary incubator in northwest Indiana."
The Purdue Research Foundation will facilitate the planning and construction of the center. Then, during the center's start-up phase, a 12-member advisory board will establish the center's operating policies and guidelines for selecting tenants. The board includes the area's leaders, Jischke and Howard Cohen, the chancellor of Purdue University-Calumet. Cal Bellamy, chairman and CEO of Bank Calumet, serves as its chairman.
Don Gentry, Purdue's vice provost for engagement, said, "The businesses that sprout from this incubator will be aligned with the needs and assets of Indiana and the global economic forces that offer huge potentials for growth."
Purdue's Office of Engagement will serve as the fiscal agent for any federal, state, local or grant funds directed to the center for development and operating costs. The office will hire staff with input from the advisory board and assist personnel in establishing key components and methodology to identify, prepare, develop and incubate technology-based companies. After the first four years of operation, the center's staff will report to the Purdue Calumet campus, and that campus will become the center's fiscal agent.
Purdue also has proposed conducting feasibility studies for regional technology centers at South Bend, Fort Wayne, Muncie, Indianapolis, Richmond, Columbus, Bloomington, Terre Haute, Evansville and New Albany/Jeffersonville.
"The focus for each center will depend on the region of the state and the potential that exists in that region," Gentry said.
Within the Purdue Research Park, the Purdue Gateways Program nurtures startups by connecting them early in their development with mentors who help them identify market prospects, develop prototypes, launch marketing activities and develop financial resources.
Almost 150 research park acres in West Lafayette have been developed, with approximately 1 million square feet owned or leased by more than 100 companies. Many of these companies are developing Purdue-licensed technologies, and all incubator tenants benefit from attractive rental rates and access to various amenities (two-way videoconferencing, flexible office and lab space, and high-speed Internet access).
Writer: Jeanine Phipps, public relations director, Purdue Research Park, (765) 496-3133, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Martin C. Jischke, (765) 494-9708
Don Gentry, (765) 494-9094, email@example.com
Cliston Brown, director of communications, Indiana Congressman Pete Visclosky's office, (202) 225-6187
Joe Hornett, senior vice president and treasurer, Purdue Research Foundation, (765) 494-8645, firstname.lastname@example.org
Related Web site:
A publication-quality photo is available at ftp://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/merrillville.gb.jpeg.
Publication-quality renderings of the inside and outside of the facility are available at ftp://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/jischke.ptcni.jpeg and ftp://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/jischke.floorplans.jpeg.