Purdue serves as economic development partner with Hancock County

By Victor L. Lechtenberg

 

In today's global economy, cities and towns understand that they can no longer maintain a healthy economy by working in isolation. To sustain long-term economic growth, communities such as Greenfield and Fortville are forging close partnerships with government agencies and educational institutions, including Purdue University.

I recently visited Hancock County to get a firsthand view of how well the university is doing to help companies remain competitive in the global marketplace. One initiative that is making a difference is the Technical Assistance Program, which connects companies with Purdue resources and assists them in becoming more globally competitive. Since 1986, the program has worked on nearly 6,100 different projects with companies throughout Indiana. Projects have ranged from implementing state-of-the-art technologies to work force training to energy cost reduction.

One company that has benefited from the Technical Assistance Program is Fortville Feeders Inc., which builds custom parts handling systems. Purdue experts assisted the company in evaluating its welding processes. They also helped Fortville Feeders employ lean manufacturing concepts, which lowered costs and made their operations more efficient.

Another example is Purdue's Healthcare Technical Assistance Program, a partnership with the Indiana Hospital&Health Association and Purdue's Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering, through which interdisciplinary teams from the College of Engineering and the School of Nursing offer operational improvement assistance to Indiana's 166 hospitals. It worked with Hancock Regional Hospital to analyze patient flow and nursing productivity in the emergency department and cardiac and intensive care unit.

The hospital reported that the project saved thousands of dollars in time efficiency and also benefited patients. The program also performed a gap analysis of pandemic influenza plans for each of Indiana's 94 health departments.

Purdue's outreach to Indiana companies is paying great dividends. According to the Technical Assistance Program's recently released annual report, companies have created or preserved nearly 4,600 Indiana jobs since the program's inception. The partnerships also have spurred $16.8 million in increased sales, $31.67 million in sales retained, approximately $9.5 million in capital investment and $5.1 million in cost savings for 2005-06.

Another program that has a positive impact on the quality of life for Hancock County residents is Purdue's Cooperative Extension Program. It serves as both an economic and educational driving force. Whether it's offering advice on solving agricultural problems or providing instructional programs for both young people and adults, Extension staff who call Hancock County home make a difference on a daily basis.

Hancock County is important to Purdue. We look forward to developing even more partnerships to accomplish our mission of educational and economic growth.

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Victor L. Lechtenberg, Purdue's vice provost for engagement, visited Hancock County recently with Purdue President Martin C. Jischke and other university officials. They visit a different community each month to exchange ideas with business, agricultural and community members.