Ball State’s Namesakes Subjects of New Documentary to Premiere Sept. 25

Ball State University has become a state institution with quite a reputation for producing very skilled graduates. But you might not know much about its history. A group of students hope to remedy that with a new film project. Ball State reports:

A student-produced documentary will explore the impact the five Ball brothers have had on east central Indiana since the 1880s, when they moved their glass manufacturing business from Buffalo to Muncie — transforming the community into an industrial force in the Midwest. “A Legacy Etched in Glass: The Ball Brothers in Muncie” is an immersive learning project by Ball State University under the direction of Chris Flook, a telecommunications instructor. The film explores the lives of the five brothers, the family legacy in Muncie and the core values that propelled them to success: hard work, philanthropy, entrepreneurship and beneficence. The story weaves cinematography, motion graphic animation and archived material with interviews from historians. Building their factories on the south of side of Muncie, the Ball brothers expanded their operations enormously over several decades in the early 20th century. Even after the natural gas ran out, Ball Corp. continued to produce glass in Muncie well into the 20th century. Ball Corp. spun off two enterprises — today known as Jarden and the Ardagh Group — before moving fully to Colorado in the late 1990s. Ball Corp. currently focuses on avionics and beverage container manufacturing. “Legacy” not only explores the lives of all five brothers, their wives and other family members, but it also explores the wide-ranging philanthropic efforts of the family in Muncie over the past 120 years. The documentary will have its public premiere at 6 p.m. Sept. 25 at Minnetrista.

Watch a preview of the documentary, and learn more about the project online.

Chris Flook, who also serves as executive producer, may be reached at [email protected] or 765-730-0841.

Grant to Fund Manchester College Economic Index in Wabash County

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.