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Indiana University Northwest launches inaugural Economic Development Academy

NIPSCO, NiSource Charitable Foundation grant funds 7-week regional economic development program

Community May 6, 2024

The Indiana University Northwest campus is pictured from the air on Thursday, May 12, 2022. (Photo by James Brosher/Indiana University) Indiana University Northwest’s School of Business and Economics (SOBE) is proud to announce the inaugural Economic Development Academy (EDA), a seven-week in-person and virtual training program focused on regional economic development.

The program, which runs May 21 through July 2, will connect economic development approaches with practice, using current research, case studies, guest speakers and lively discussions.

Regional economic development professionals will serve as program leaders, imparting their expertise and experience with program participants. Those leaders include:

  • Anthony Sindone and Micah Pollak, IU Northwest, economists specializing in regional economic development
  • Rick Calinski, NIPSCO, Director of Public Affairs and Economic Development
  • Heather Ennis, Northwest Indiana Forum, President & CEO
  • Seth Spencer, Sera Group, CEO

The program will focus on connecting multiple areas of economic development, including:

  • Understanding the competitive advantage of a region: Every region has a unique competitive advantage. By identifying areas of relative strength and developing strategies to support and expand these areas, a region can better leverage its competitive advantage into more effective economic development.
  • The importance of a dynamic workforce: To better harness the potential for economic growth, a region must attract and maintain a broad, flexible and well-educated workforce. This workforce should meet the needs of existing major industries, while the businesses must maintain a high-quality employee environment and be adaptable to new industries.
  • The role of infrastructure in putting everything together: The infrastructure of a region represents the bedrock on which economic development is made possible. Realizing the potential of existing infrastructure and the benefit of investing in new infrastructure is critical in realizing the competitive advantage of a region.

Campus-community collaboration

The EDA program is made possible through many community partners, including a grant from NIPSCO and the NiSource Charitable Foundation.

“By combining the resources, strength and talent of IU Northwest, NIPSCO and many other partners, we have an unprecedented opportunity to help improve and advance the economic vitality of Northwest Indiana,” said Cynthia Roberts, Dean of SOBE. “We recognize that when we raise the bar for Northwest Indiana, we lift everyone in our region, which is why we are especially grateful for the financial support and partnership of NIPSCO and their Foundation.”

“A strong economic development strategy is a key driver to create and maintain a high quality of life in all communities,” said Rick Calinksi, NIPSCO Director of Public Affairs and Economic Development. “As an energy provider, NIPSCO often has a unique seat at the table to provide energy for many potential projects that can impact our region. When IU Northwest approached NIPSCO about being a partner for this program, we felt this was a great opportunity to educate, inform and align community and business leaders so we can best be prepared to drive business growth and job creation across Northern Indiana. NIPSCO is excited about the program and proud to be a partner.”

Program details & registration

The Economic Development Academy takes place over seven weeks, with in-person sessions at IU Northwest every other Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon, starting Tuesday, May 21. Subsequent weeks’ content will be delivered virtually featuring online case studies, readings, interactive activities and discussions.

  • In-person sessions (at IU Northwest): May 21, June 4, June 18 and July 2
  • Virtual sessions: May 28, June 11 and June 25

Completion of the EDA will include a certificate of completion and allow registration in future programs, which will focus on more specialized economic development topics.

Registration is $395 per participant, with discounts for multiple registrations.

To register for the program, please click here.

Questions should be directed to Micah Pollak, Associate Professor of Economics, at or (219) 980-6913.

IU 2030: Service to our State and Beyond

IU Northwest will improve the lives of the people and economic vitality of Northwest Indiana and beyond by fostering and strengthening collaborative relationships that promote, build and sustain the well-being of the campus and our communities.

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