Johnson County benefits by partnering with Purdue

By Victor L. Lechtenberg

Operating in isolation doesn't work. In today's global economy, cities and towns understand that collaboration is the key to success. To sustain long-term economic growth in today's global economy, communities such as Greenwood and Franklin are forging close partnerships with government agencies and educational institutions, including Purdue University.

I recently visited Johnson County to get a firsthand view of how well the university is doing to help companies remain competitive in the global marketplace. An 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 Grimmer Industries, which produces large air compressors. The program has worked with Grimmer on 14 projects, of which the most recent involved improving operational efficiency. Their collaboration is expected to save the company thousands of dollars in manufacturing costs.

Another example is Nachi Technology Inc., which produces high-volume bearings used in automotive air conditioning. The Technical Assistance Program helped them with work force development training.

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 Johnson County residents is Purdue's Cooperative Extension Service. 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 Johnson County home make a difference on a daily basis.

While these programs illustrate our valuable partnerships with the business and educational sectors of Johnson County, it is time to consider what goals to set for the future. Purdue's board of trustees asks Johnson County residents to consider five questions:

• How has Purdue benefited Johnson County, and what needs might be unmet?

• How can the university partner at the county level to accomplish even more?

• What do businesses, citizens and young people in Johnson County need from a major research university?

• What does Purdue need from Johnson County to help it accomplish mutual goals?

• How can Purdue improve its learning environment to better prepare students for the future?

Ideas can be submitted to Purdue's strategic plan Web site at http://www.purdue.edu/whatsnext/

Meanwhile, Purdue pledges to continue to use its resources to serve Johnson County. We look forward to finding more ways to collaborate as we continue our mission of educational and economic growth.

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Victor L. Lechtenberg, Purdue's vice provost for engagement, visited Johnson 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.