Short Takes: October 5, 2011

Written by Nicholas Serrano. Posted in Short Takes

Published on October 05, 2011 with No Comments


Economic Development Administration Grants

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank announced 21 universities across the country -including 941,865 to Purdue University — will receive a total of $12 million in awards from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) through its University Center Program to enhance regional economic development tools that will expand opportunity and create jobs. EDA’s Chicago and Philadelphia regional offices hosted the program’s most-recent competitions. Winning universities will receive funding to boost their economic development efforts that assist local government and nonprofit organizations in planning and implementing regional economic development strategies.  “Innovation and entrepreneurship fuel America’s economy.  Our success in creating the conditions that spur new ideas will determine the opportunities for future generations,” said Blank. “The University Center Program represents an important partnership that advances innovation, supports stronger economic growth, and helps create the high-skill, high-wage jobs of the future.” The University Center Program provides targeted assistance with research commercialization, workforce development and entrepreneurship, as well as business counseling services. The program also helps local organizations conduct preliminary feasibility studies, analyze data, and convene customized seminars and workshops on topics such as regional strategic planning and capital budgeting. Institutions of higher education are critical players in the development of competitive and vibrant economies.  Universities leverage assets such as faculty, staff, students, research and development centers, laboratories, and high-speed broadband networks in order to drive regional economic growth through innovation. They help move new ideas from the lab to the consumer market and support bottom-up strategies, enabling business expansion and job creation. For more information, visit www.eda.gov.



Astronomy Program Receives $212,000 for Star Research

Undergraduate astronomy students at Valparaiso University will engage in research that will further astronomers’ understanding of the life and death of stars similar to the Sun with the support of a $212,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.  Todd Hillwig, associate professor of physics and astronomy, who will lead the research program, said the federal agency’s Research in Undergraduate Institutions award will allow undergraduate students to conduct the specialized star research for three years. “This will get students involved in cutting-edge research with results that can be published, introduce them to concepts and techniques involved in such in-depth work and prepare them to be scientifically literate members of society,” Hillwig said. Valparaiso University President Mark A. Heckler added: “We are very pleased to receive this grant from the National Science Foundation. Not only will this research advance our understanding of supernovas and related areas, but the research itself will involve Valpo undergraduates, working alongside our distinguished faculty members. We appreciate this recognition of our capabilities to conduct outstanding research and provide exceptional educational opportunities for our students.” The project, titled “RUI: An Observational Exploration of the Late Stages of Close Binary Star Evolution in Low to Intermediate Mass Stars” will support Valpo’s observational studies of stars. Hillwig and his students will focus on using the SARA telescopes in Arizona and Chile to discover and study new binary star systems. “The current thinking is that the lifetime of stars in dual star orbit is different, so we will be taking a closer look at these binary star systems,” Hillwig said. “What is especially meaningful about this work is that it will show us if the sun will go through similar life stages of its own.”  In recent years, Hillwig and his students have conducted significant research into the life and death of stars using some of the world’s largest telescopes including the Gemini Telescopes in Hawaii and Chile, the Hobby-Eberly telescope in Texas, and the SOAR telescope in Chile.



Portage, Cedar Lake Recipients

The Portage and Cedar Lake Police Departments will each receive grants through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services program to provide funding to state and local law enforcement agencies to hire, preserve, or rehire officers in an effort to increase policing capacity and crime prevention efforts. Both police departments will be hiring officers. Portage Chief Mark Becker said, “With the approval of our city council, this grant would provide federal funds totaling $542,520 to cover the salary and benefits for up to three officers over the next three years. As we have outlined in our COPS application, it is our vision that these funds would assist in our community policing efforts, which could include an additional school resource officer, drug interdiction personnel and more officers assigned to patrol in support of those endeavors.” Cedar Lake Police Chief Roger Patz said, “Our Department has been struggling for years with the inability to add additional police officer positions, even though our community has grown substantially. With the help and support of Congressman Pete Visclosky, we have overcome the odds and our Town will soon be a little safer. We hope that in a matter of weeks, we will add a new police officer position” The Portage Police Department will receive $542,520. The Cedar Lake Police Department will receive $227,143. The COPS grants will cover full salary and benefits packages for the hired officers for the next three years.


South Bend Airport Awarded Development Grant

The South Bend Airport (SBN) has been awarded a grant in the amount of $750,000 under the U.S. Department of Transportation Small Community Air Service Development Program. The airport was among 29 airports across the nation to receive grants awarded through the $15 Million, 2011 program. The Airport’s proposal was positioned to acquire funding to be used to attract and support low-cost service to a west-bound hub, specifically Denver, Colo., The demonstrated need for enhanced west-bound service, hub-connectivity, and lower air fares, paired with significant community commitment and support helped to make case for a 2011 grant award. The proposal also lists alternative destinations that can be looked at after an in-depth study on the DEN-SBN route is conducted. Under the guidelines provided in the grant program, the grant monies may be used to reduce an airline’s financial risk of entering a new market and for marketing support for that new service. The Airport will focus the award money on recruitment efforts with Frontier Airlines to their Denver, Colo., hub. Elizabeth Cecconi, Director of Marketing/Development (SBN), notes that, The Airport has met with Frontier Airlines on several occasions over the past two years and this grant award will allow the airport to expand upon initial discussions and further work to make west-bound, hub connectivity and low-fares a reality. The letter of interest submitted by the airline does not indicate a pledge to begin service from South Bend, but it does signify that the airline will take the grant into consideration when conducting further route feasibility studies on the Denver-South Bend market. South Bend Airport’s four air carriers provide non-stop flights to nine cities:  Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Las Vegas, Phoenix-Mesa, Minneapolis, Orlando/Sanford, and Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg and connections world-wide. To learn more, visit www.FlySBN.


Area School Districts TRAIN

Saving Money Is The Objective

Three area school districts along with the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) joined with Cummins to host a training session to help Indiana school corporations identify efficiencies and cost savings.  This free training was offered on a first come first served basis, and Cummins has committed to offering ongoing support as superintendents work to apply these important lessons and implement cost-saving measures at their school corporations. Included are East Porter Community School Corp., Merrillville Community Schools and Oregon-Davis School Corp.. They join a total of 27 school districts throughout the state in this endeavor. “At a time when Indiana’s school leaders are asking how to get more education with Hoosier tax dollars, we are thrilled to have companies like Cummins offer their expertise,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett said.  “Moving forward, I believe robust public-private partnerships like this one will be a critical component driving the long-term financial health of our school districts.  I greatly appreciate the companies that have already indicated their interest in assisting our schools, and I encourage superintendents to work with the IDOE to immediately identify private partners best suited to address their districts’ needs.” Under a provision in the state budget, Indiana’s schools will now have access to business experts, like those at Cummins, who can identify savings and help schools spend their money where it has the biggest impact—on innovative programs and classroom instruction. “We are very excited to work with the Indiana Department of Education and school districts throughout Indiana in a partnership designed to save the school districts money which can be used by the various school districts to improve education in our State,” said Mark Gerstle, Vice President of Community Relations at Cummins.  “Cummins believes that the key to its growth and success in Indiana and to economic development generally is an excellent education system, and we are pleased to provide whatever assistance we can to make Indiana a leader in education.”

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