January 10, 2002
Visclosky backs high-tech incubator at Purdue Calumet
MERRILLVILLE, Ind. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., announced today (Thursday, 1/10) that he is seeking $7 million in federal funding to place a high-tech business incubator in northwest Indiana modeled after a successful facility at the Purdue Research Park in West Lafayette.
"With the economy continuing to struggle, it is now clearer than ever that we cannot have all of our economic eggs in one basket," Visclosky said. "That is why northwest Indiana is such an appropriate location for Purdue's first subsidiary center in the State of Indiana. This high-tech incubator will provide good business opportunities for northwest Indiana residents for many years to come."
With high-technology business growth as the goal, Visclosky and Purdue officials have devised a plan to create the state's first federally subsidized business incubator. The plan is similar to House Enrolled Act No. 1424, which was passed by the Indiana General Assembly last year. That legislation called for the creation of several high-tech incubators at key points throughout Indiana. Although the bill was passed almost unanimously, its companion funding bill was not passed due to a state budget shortfall.
"If the federal government can pick up where the state left off, the northwest Indiana region stands to benefit from the most promising economic development tool available in this state," said Purdue President Martin C. Jischke. "The proximity of the proposed incubator to the corridor between Chicago and Indianapolis, and its link to the Purdue campuses, provides an attractive setting for high-tech companies."
Visclosky is asking for $6 million in federal funding for construction and infrastructure costs for the high-tech incubator to be called the Purdue Technology Center of Northwest Indiana and $1 million over four years for operating costs. Visclosky already has secured $1.4 million toward this effort for the 2002 fiscal year.
If federal funding for the project is approved, a 12-member advisory board immediately will be created consisting of the area's leaders, Jischke and Howard Cohen, the chancellor of Purdue University-Calumet. This advisory board will establish the center's operating policies and selection guidelines.
"This advisory board will include some of northwest Indiana's top business leaders. Cal Bellamy, chairman and CEO of Bank Calumet, will serve as chairman," Visclosky said. "These leaders will bring to the table a proven history of success and the knowledge of what it takes to grow businesses in our area."
Under the plan, the Purdue Research Foundation intends to provide sufficient land for the creation of the center from its total holdings in Merrillville, which includes roughly 400 acres of farmland. The land is located west of I-65 and bounded by the interstate, 93rd Avenue, 101st Avenue and Broadway. PRF's preliminary master plan places the incubator off of 93rd Avenue with access to that road.
The center's start-up phase is expected to last four years. During that time, the foundation will facilitate the planning and construction of the center. Purdue's Office of Engagement will serve as the fiscal agent for federal, state, local and grant funds directed to the center for development and operating costs; 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.
At the end of the start-up phase, the center's staff will report to the Purdue Calumet campus and that campus will become the center's fiscal agent. Purdue's West Lafayette campus will continue to advise and assist the center's staff after this initial phase, and the center's budget will incorporate these costs.
"At the Purdue Research Park, we are proving that we can grow and sustain high-tech companies," said Don Gentry, Purdue's vice provost for engagement. "Our experience and know-how can help many other Indiana communities, especially those near universities, to do the same thing."
Purdue Research Park is located about two miles north of Purdue's West Lafayette campus. A partnership between the Purdue Research Foundation and the City of West Lafayette is funding the development of additional building sites for high-tech companies in the 619-acre park. Almost 150 acres 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.
The success of the park's incubated businesses is due, in part, to the Purdue Gateways Program, which connects startups early in their development with mentors who help them identify market prospects, develop prototypes, launch marketing activities and develop financial resources. Incubator tenants also benefit from attractive rental rates and access to various amenities such as two-way videoconferencing, flexible office and lab space, and high-speed Internet access.
The park's high-tech incubation complex consists of the Purdue Technology Center, Hentschel Center, the Business and Technology Center, and Innovation Center, which serves companies that have moved beyond the incubation stage. These buildings recently have been joined by Vistech I, the first high-tech, multi-tenant facility in the park funded by private investors.
"Purdue's success with its center in West Lafayette is a preview of what can be done in northwest Indiana," Visclosky said. "The combination of Purdue's knowledge and experience, and the skill of our local business leaders, will provide a solid foundation for the Purdue Technology Center of Northwest Indiana."
Writer: Jeanine S. Phipps, (765) 496-3133; email@example.com
Sources: Don K. Gentry, (765) 494-9095, firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter J. Visclosky, (219) 884-1177 or (202) 225-2461
Michelle White, interim senior vice president and treasurer, Purdue Research Foundation, (765) 494-8642, email@example.com
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; firstname.lastname@example.org
A publication-quality photograph is available at ftp://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/calumet.jischke.jpeg.