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5/5/2012 9:15:00 AM
Trine University and Angola again seeking economic partnership

Kathryn Bassett, Herald Republican

ANGOLA — Angola Mayor Richard Hickman and Trine University President Earl Brooks Friday announced a proposal to create an entrepreneurial program and technological commercialization lab at the university.

In the past year, Trine has acquired more than $3.5 million worth of laboratory equipment and more than $5 million in commitments to support the initiative. University administrators said they hope the city of Angola will invest an additional $2 million toward the effort.

At a news conference Friday, Hickman said he will approach the city council at its Monday meeting to propose the city allocate $2 million in Major Moves funding toward the partnership.

Trine will use the funding to establish a Materials Science Center of Excellence, supporting industry leaders such as Auburn-based Metal Technologies and building on the foundation of Trine’s cast metals program, which is ranked as one of the top programs in North America by the Foundry Education Foundation.

Trine also plans to support plastics and packaging technology to better assist industry partners such as Rieke Packaging, also of Auburn. Other plans include launching entrepreneurship and technology commercialization efforts within Trine’s Ketner School of Business and offering undergraduate and graduate-level biomedical engineering degrees.

“I believe these programs will be this community’s best opportunity to create long-term, home-grown jobs that will allow our children and grandchildren the choice of staying in our community or coming back to our community after they have graduated from high school and college.,” Hickman said.

Hickman said such a partnership is not a new concept.

“Universities and communities are partnering in many areas of our state and country on projects very similar to this. These partnerships are working. We are very fortunate to have this asset in our back yard,” Hickman said.

“We need to think about the future of this community and how we can support our local entrepreneurs,” the mayor said. “Through this partnership, we will promote collaboration between Angola-based companies and Trine University. We must think about the vitality of the Angola community and the opportunities we will create for generations to come.”

Hickman said the city’s return on its investment would be in jobs created from the university’s programs and taxes generated from those jobs.

“When Gov. Mitch Daniels handed me the Major Moves check, he said, ‘This is to be used for economic development. Be bold with your investment.’ I believe this will be both a bold and wise investment for our community for this money to help create jobs in our city, our county and the northest region of Indiana for generations to come,” Hickman said.

The city still has available $3.2 million in Major Moves money from the $3.9 million it received from the 2006 legislation that resulted in the lease of the Indiana Toll Road to a private company.

Hickman said the earliest date for the council to consider a first reading of an ordinance on the partnership would be May 21, with a final reading at the council’s second meeting in June.

Brooks said he appreciates Hickman’s “bold vision.” He added that Trine is pursuing the economic development initiative to retain “some of the best and brightest talent here in our region versus exporting it outside the region, the state or to other parts of the country.”

Brooks said the university would not make such an investment unless it was confident of the success and a long-lasting benefit for the community and the university.

“This total $10 million partnership is all about quality education, it’s about economic development, about diversifying the job base in the city of Angola,” Brooks said. “Today, I congratulate the mayor and city council for their bold vision and leadership to move forward with this initiative, which is a proven, successful model in other communities that is working in other communities around the country.”

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