Federal grant to Indiana Business Research Center supports economic development tool used nationally

  • Oct. 28, 2015


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business has been awarded a grant of nearly half a million dollars from the Economic Development Administration in the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The $499,977 grant will support further development of the center’s popular website, which is used by economic development practitioners, planners and researchers nationwide.

The new two-year Economic Development Administration grant will enable the IBRC to maintain and expand the databases and website, as well as develop a new digital resource library to provide economic development professionals convenient access to important reports, planning guidelines, best practices and related materials essential to effective economic development programs.

“We originally developed StatsAmerica as a robust and convenient information resource for use by economic development professionals,” said Jerry Conover, director of the Indiana Business Research Center. “Over time, it has become one of the most widely used sources of detailed data for every county in the nation, including demographic, workforce and economic statistics.

Conover added that the site also features interactive tools offering users insight into the kinds of industries and occupations that are most important to their regions.

“StatsAmerica brings a powerful suite of data tools to the fingertips of economic developers and policy-makers across the nation,” said Bryan Borlik, director of performance and national programs at the U.S. Economic Development Administration. “The information it provides is critical to developing sound economic development strategy and policy, and EDA is proud of its partnership with Indiana Business Research Center to support the site.”

One such tool is the Innovation Index, created by the IBRC to diagnose a region’s strengths and weaknesses with regard to innovation-driven economic activity.

“The first version of the Innovation Index provided users relevant data and analytical tools for economic practitioners and policy-makers to see and understand a region's weaknesses, strengths and potential,” said Timothy Slaper, the center’s director of economic analysis, who led the index’s development.

In the latest stage of the Innovation Index’s development, it has been expanded to include more than 50 new measures of innovation and economic performance.

“The new measures reflect practitioner thinking and recent academic research on understanding and measuring innovation,” Slaper said. “For example, the new version of the Innovation Index includes measures that take into account regional knowledge spillovers, technology diffusion, foreign direct investment and industry cluster performance.”

One user is the I-69 Innovation Corridor regional initiative, an 11-county effort to spur innovation-driven economic growth in southwestern Indiana. I-69 Innovation Corridor efforts led by the University of Southern Indiana leveraged StatsAmerica’s Innovation Index in helping regional stakeholders understand the opportunities and challenges they face in propelling economic growth.

This project won an Award of Excellence recently at the University Economic Development Association’s annual conference.

“It is exciting to consider that Version 2.0, with more robust and comprehensive innovation data, will be used to accelerate economic performance in southwest Indiana,” Slaper said.

StatsAmerica also received the Award of Excellence for Websites at the annual meeting of the Association for University Business and Economic Research.

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