2015-12-29 / Front Page

Lilly Endowment Awards $42,000,000 For Regional Development Initiatives

Staff Report

Lilly Endowment, Inc. has awarded three grants totaling $42 million to organizations in the Southwest Central Indiana region. The grants will support regional development initiatives in an 11-county area that encompasses Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen, and Washington counties.

Mark Rogers, President and CEO of the Owen County Community Foundation (OCCF), who helped provide local Owen County input to the original planning grant, said, “We are so excited for this opportunity. Our OCCF and our community look forward to working with the ten other counties in the region to start the hard work of turning this grant into real progress for our communities.”

The funds will advance a range of activities that focus on research and development, workforce and education initiatives, and projects that enhance the region’s quality of life. Specific projects and the grants to support them are:

•Implementation of an education and workforce plan and a regional opportunity fund for quality of-place investments funded by a $25,870,000 grant to Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc. (ROI). ROI is a newly-formed nonprofit with a mission to support regional development opportunities in the 11 counties of Southwest Central Indiana. Led by a regional board of directors, ROI is affiliated with the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County.

•Establishment and development of an Applied Research Institute (ARI) to be located near the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane). Initially, it will be led by an advisory board comprising representatives of Crane, research universities in Indiana, and other corporate and institutional partners. Start-up expenses will be funded through a $16,225,000 grant to CICP Foundation.

•Planning activities funded by $122,600 grant to Indiana University Foundation to explore the potential development of a Rural Center at Indiana University to study and address societal challenges found in rural communities.

With the support of planning grants from Lilly Endowment in 2012 and 2013, a steering committee and several regional stakeholders have been working collaboratively on strategies for advancing the region. In November 2014, the steering committee completed and released its Strategic Plan for Economic and Community Prosperity in Southwest Central Indiana, in cooperation with the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice.

“This implementation funding from Lilly Endowment will enable the region to begin executing key elements of the regional plan,” Dan Peterson, vice president of industry and government affairs at Cook Group and chairman of the steering committee, said. “As the strategic plan for economic and community prosperity highlights, this region is fortunate to have a unique set of assets: strong life sciences, defense and advanced manufacturing sectors; a world-class education and research institution in Indiana University; the third largest Navy base in the world; and wonderful natural and entertainment amenities such as Brown County and French Lick. These grants are a game-changer for our region as we take strategies for success from concept to reality. The impact will be transformational for all those who live, work and invest in Southwest Central Indiana.”

“The Southwest Central Indiana region is home to an impressive number of scientists, engineers and technicians with more than 2,000 working at Indiana’s only federal lab at Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane, hundreds at Cook Group, and more than 1,000 science and engineering faculty at Indiana University,” added N. Clay Robbins, chairman, president and CEO of Lilly Endowment. “With the recent extension of I-69, these assets and the people who power them are becoming even more connected, and we are hopeful that this funding will help enhance and secure the future prosperity of the region.”

The grant recipients plan to share more details with stakeholders and community leaders at an event to be organized in early 2016.

The previously released regional strategic plan, Strategic Plan for Economic and Community Prosperity in Southwest Central Indiana, can be accessed at www.cfbmc.org and http:// www.radiusindiana.com/ strategic-plan.

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