News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 24, 2009

TH to promote ‘Crossroads of Higher Education’ at Statehouse

Terre Haute may lie near Indiana’s western border, but business, education and government leaders want state lawmakers to know that the city that bills itself as the “Crossroads of America” is also the “Crossroads of Higher Education.”

Students, faculty and staff from the community’s four colleges and universities — Indiana State University, Ivy Tech State College-Wabash Valley, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and St. Mary-of-the-Woods College — will descend on the state capitol today for Vigo County Higher Education Day at the Statehouse.

The institutions have a combined enrollment of more than 20,700 students and employ nearly 3,700 people, with a collective payroll of $146.8 million.

“As lawmakers and the governor determine where to invest the state’s limited resources, we want to make sure they recognize that an investment in Indiana State or Ivy Tech”s Terre Haute campus is more than an investment in a single institution,” said Daniel J. Bradley, president of Indiana State University. “Investing in either of our campuses is really an investment in Terre Haute and the Wabash Valley.”

Bradley said that each of the area institutions “fills a unique role.”

“Vigo County’s colleges and universities have a history of working together to help our community and state. That collaboration has grown stronger through such initiatives as the Terre Haute Innovation Alliance and the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative,” he said.

The Innovation Alliance helps new and expanding businesses while providing real-world experience to students. The newly formed Rural Health Innovation Collaborative is aimed at improving health care in a critically underserved area of the state and providing the training and education needed to meet the growing demand for health care professionals in Indiana.

Being home to four institutions of higher learning ensures there is no shortage of well-educated people who live, work and learn in Terre Haute, said Mayor Duke Bennett.

“We applaud their continued effort to work with the city and one another to make our community the best that it can be. Working together simply expands the possibility of continued success for not only each institution but also the city of Terre Haute and the state of Indiana,” Bennett said.

Given the hyper-competitive nature of the economic development universe, Steve Witt, president of the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp., said communities are always looking for ways to set themselves apart from their competitors, and Vigo County’s unique mix of higher education institutions does that.

“Few communities our size can offer the higher education attributes that we have. The presence of these outstanding institutions in our community provides validation to prospective business enterprises that we have what it takes to be competitive in the 21st century,” Witt said.

While Terre Haute is just one of many communities nationwide that can boast of their relatively low cost of doing business, it is difficult to place a dollar value on education and community engagement of its higher education institutions, said Rod Henry, president of the Greater Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce.

“Economically, we could hire a study done on the factors of cost. What we cannot foresee or produce is a study on what these institutions mean to the community as a place where people go to establish their futures. We are a retail hub, a health care hub and an education hub — a well-balanced community,” Henry said.

Submitted by Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University.