Manchester College students and two recent graduates will create an economic index to help Wabash County woo business and industry. The start-up project – underwritten by a $16,000 grant from Ball Brothers Foundation Venture Fund – will serve as a model for other rural areas, said John Deal, chair of the College’s economics program. A release from Manchester explains:
“This analysis will show the industrial strengths that will hopefully draw employers to the area,” said Deal, who is guiding the project with Matt Hendryx, visiting associate professor of economics. The goal is to generate three or four economic reports annually, beginning in April 2012.
The economic reports will help Wabash County forecast area economic potential and outlook, said economics minor Karla Conrad of Pleasant Lake, Ind., who graduated with honors in May. This summer, she is gleaning data from public records with economics and accounting major Jason Elliott, who also graduated in May.
In the fall, they will hand off the project to two current Manchester students with strong grasps of statistics and economic principals. “We are building a foundation for others to work off of,” said Elliott, of Goshen, Ind., who will seek a graduate degree in environmental economics at Duke University. Conrad will seek a graduate degree in economic system design at Chapman University.
The Ball Brothers Foundation grant, administered by Independent Colleges of Indiana, is funding the project startup costs, including those associated with establishing relationships in the local business community, generating data, software and technology.
Elliott and Conrad are working closely with Bill Konyha, president and chief executive officer of the Economic Development Group of Wabash County Inc., who is connecting them with area banking and industry officials.
After the first year of the project, it is hoped that sustaining support will come from area businesses and relationships, Deal said. In addition to updated reports, the students will create a guide for other communities to replicate the project.
Recipients of grants from the Ball Brothers Foundation Venture Fund share $75,000 in seed funding for their start-up initiatives to stimulate creativity and innovation and foster competition and collaboration among the state’s 31 independent colleges and universities.