Purdue News

November 2004

A monthly letter from President Martin C. Jischke

In early November, Joe Hornett, senior vice president of the Purdue Research Foundation, called to tell me that negotiations that had been ongoing for several months were about to bear fruit with the establishment of a Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. engineering design facility in the Purdue Research Park.

It took a few more weeks of working out details before we could make an official announcement on Dec. 1, but it was worth the wait. This is tremendously exciting news for Purdue, the state of Indiana and the Lafayette/West Lafayette community. The design center, which will be operated by Sikorsky's subcontractor, Butler International Inc., will be functioning by early January in a remodeled building in the Research Park. Initially, it will employ about 40 people, most of them with engineering backgrounds, but Butler International is planning some very fast-track growth. Depending on several anticipated contract awards to Sikorsky, the new center could employ about 200 people by the end of 2005. This is precisely what we mean by "advanced manufacturing."

These new jobs are important to Indiana, of course, but this success is important for deeper reasons. Sikorsky, based in Stratford, Conn., is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of advanced helicopters for commercial, industrial and military use. One of its best-known products is the H-60 "Blackhawk" helicopter. The company also has built and maintained every presidential helicopter since the days of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Sikorsky is the kind of knowledge-driven company that Indiana needs to bring into its economy to strengthen its national and global position. The decision by Sikorsky and Butler to locate here demonstrates that our state can be successful in attracting a key element of a major corporation in a competitive process. Indiana emerged as the winner in a process in which several states in various parts of the nation were considered.

I believe Purdue – because of its resources as a research university and as an institution that graduates large numbers of creative and technically proficient people – was a key to this success for Indiana. However, the university and its nationally recognized Research Park could not have done this alone. A true team effort was necessary. The city of West Lafayette and Purdue Research Foundation – which owns the Research Park – together will renovate the former Whirlpool Corp. facility. Renovation expenses are projected to total approximately $4 million.

An economic development incentive package offered by the state of Indiana and accepted by Butler includes $2.8 million in Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credits, which credit the company's state income tax liability for new jobs created; $225,000 in training dollars from the Skills Enhancement Fund; a Technology Enhancement Certifications for Hoosiers (TECH) training grant worth up to $50,000; an Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) training grant worth $200,000; $53,000 in profiles and assessments from the DWD WorkKeys; and approximately $188,000 in assistance from the local WorkOne facility for recruitment.

In addition, Tippecanoe County plans to provide a three-year $450,000 grant to Lafayette-West Lafayette Economic Development Corporation to assist in recruiting and relocating job candidates for the design center.

This combination of state, local and regional government, a great research university and two forward-looking companies – Sikorsky and Butler – add up to a winning result for everyone concerned. It's a formula I think will work all across Indiana as we move our economy forward in the 21st century.

• • •

Purdue academic programs continue to excel in national rankings. Three graduate programs in the Department of Communication were ranked among the top 10 in the United States by the National Communication Association, the nation's largest communication association.

The program in interpersonal communication ranked fourth in the nation, while those in organizational and health communication, ranked seventh and eighth respectively. The rankings are based on surveys from 376 faculty members from communication doctoral programs throughout the country.

Howard Sypher, head of the department, and Toby Parcel, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, deserve congratulations, along with the faculty and students in the department.

• • •

I look forward to spending a few days in El Paso with our Sun Bowl Bowl-bound Boilermakers. Happy Holidays to all!


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