Regional Opportunity Initiatives Newsletter, July 2017

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Advancing economic and community prosperity in an 11-county region that encompasses Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen and Washington counties.

Educators Explore Work Environments in Advanced Manufacturing, Life Sciences, and Defense Industries

Educator Boot Camp

Educator Boot Camp gives teachers opportunity to learn about careers in Southwest Central Indiana’s key industry sectors. 

Fifty-four educators from eight Southwest Central Indiana counties participated in a week-long Educator Boot Camp in June. Educators experienced work environments on site at regional industry employers in the advanced manufacturing, life sciences and national security and defense sectors. Participating educators each spent time in up to three host companies learning about the skills and education needed to thrive at different employment levels.

“The experience was an intense immersion that allowed educators to experience local job opportunities for students of all education levels,” said Lisa Eldridge, fifth and sixth-grade teacher at Spencer Elementary School (Spencer, IN).

ROI, the Center for P-16 Research and Collaboration in the School of Education at Indiana UniversityDirectEmployers Institute and WorkOne partnered to create the Southwest Central Indiana Educator Boot Camp externship program. Read more.

Fifteen School Teachers Selected for Regional STEM Fellow Program

STEM Fellows

Fifteen Southwest Central Indiana K-6 school teachers from 12 school districts have been selected as Fellows in expanding regional educational programming in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Teachers in ROI’s STEM Fellows program will participate in professional development activities focused on experiential learning, engineering design process, project-based learning, coding and other relevant topics. Fellows will also develop STEM lesson plans and provide support to colleagues to grow a regional network of skilled STEM educators throughout Southwest Central Indiana.

The STEM Fellows initiative will kick off with a two-day professional development event beginning July 31 at WonderLab. Read more.

IT Students Begin Skill UP! Work & Learn Experiences

Skill UP! Internship

Six IT students are interning this summer with Southwest Central Indiana defense contractor companies as part of the Skill UP! Work and Learn program. The 3/2 work and learn model is designed to allow students to attend classes three days a week and work two days a week with one of ROI’s regional industry partners. The goal of the program is to establish a pipeline of highly qualified and work-ready IT professionals who are prepared to meet the current and growing industry demand for skilled IT talent across the region.

To supplement classroom learning, ROI conducted soft skills training to prepare students for successful internship experiences. Soft skill training activities focused on time management, teamwork and collaboration, business etiquette, and leadership skills.

Ten more interns will be placed with industry partners by early August. Interested in having an IT intern in your company? Contact us for details on becoming an industry partner. Read more.

Graduation and Career Coaches Year 1 Update

A partnership with Ivy Tech Community College, the ROI Graduation and Career Coaching Pilot Initiative just completed its first year in Southwest Central Indiana schools. Coaches worked with at-risk students to create individualized high school completion plans, ensured students attended school to fulfill academic requirements, and introduced them to pathways into technical certifications, associate degrees, and other postsecondary degree programs. A summary of their impact:

2016-17 Graduation Coaching Highlights

Learn more about the difference graduation coaches are making in the lives of students in Southwestern Central Indiana. View 2016-2017 Graduation Coaches Video.

Six school districts selected for first cohort of ROI Ready Schools Initiative

Aligned SWCI

Initiative aims to align school districts to the education and workforce needs of Southwest Central Indiana

ROI has selected three applicants representing six school districts for participation in its first cohort of the Ready Schools Initiative. The selected districts include Brown County Schools, Loogootee Community Schools, and a collaboration of the four school districts in Dubois County: Greater Jasper Consolidated Schools, Northwest Dubois County School Corporation, Southwest Dubois County School Corporation and Southeast Dubois County School Corporation.

Each selected cohort applicant will receive up to $150,000 in funding and participate in a year-long design thinking framework process to support school districts in aligning K-12 curricular and programmatic offerings to the education and workforce needs of their communities. Read more.

Results of the I-69 Interchange Analyses

I-69 Interchange Analyses

On Thursday, June 29, stakeholders from across the region convened to learn more about the potential that I-69 interchange development might offer our region. HWC Engineering shared findings of their I-69 interchange analyses informed both by stakeholder feedback and an in-depth review of the interchanges in Daviess, Greene, and Monroe counties. The presentation included a panel discussion with developers who offered their insights on how our region might best take advantage of the opportunity to create a system of interchanges that will improve our capacity to achieve our economic and community prosperity goals in Southwest Central Indiana. A full report will be will be released soon.

Dartlet & 4th Economy Selected to Lead Competitive Positioning Process

Competitive Positioning

In April, ROI issued an RFP to five organizations selected for their capacity to help regions like Southwest Central Indiana identify their competitive position and define their regional brand. After a thorough review and interview process by ROI’s board of directors, Dartlet, in collaboration with Fourth Economy, has been selected to begin this process.

Dartlet and Fourth Economy will work collaboratively with stakeholders across the region to define a story that will help attract workforce, employers, and investment to Southwest Central Indiana. The competitive positioning process is expected to take 4-6 months to complete. Regional workshops will take place in September. Read more.

ROI to Add An Attainment Specialist

ROI is seeking an education attainment specialist to play a critical role in adult and post-secondary education initiatives in Southwest Central Indiana. This position will work closely with K-12, post-secondary, and adult education institutions to increase attainment in the region, with particular focus given to supporting Southwest Central Indiana’s key sectors of life sciences, defense, and advanced manufacturing. Read more.

Special Thanks to Board Presidents Matt Weinzapfel & Doug Kellams

Matt Weinzapfel

Matt Weinzapfel, Vice President of Engine Manufacturing at Jasper Engines and Transmissions, recently completed his 2-year term as the President of the ROI Board. We’d like to thank Matt for his tremendous leadership in helping to establish ROI and for his incredible contributions to Southwest Central Indiana.

Weinzapfel will continue on the ROI board and we’d like to welcome new Board President, Doug Kellams. Kellams has been a board member for 2 years and is the owner of Tri-County Builders in Bedford, IN. Kellams began his 2-year term as president July 1. View a complete list of ROI’s Board of Directors.

Upcoming Events in Southwest Central Indiana

In each newsletter, we share a summary of ROI events and those from our industry partners and organizations in Southwest Central Indiana. 

September 28: First Annual South Central Opioid Summit
Bloomington. This free, one-day summit, will bring people together to collaborate on the region’s opioid epidemic. Register now.

Do you have a regionally relevant event to share? Contact Betsy Trotzke, ROI Communications and Marketing Director at

Southwest Central Indiana

11 counties, 4,500 square miles, the 3rd largest Navy base in the world, life sciences, advanced manufacturing and more.

Follow us on social media for more up-to-date happenings in Southwest Central Indiana.

Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc., is sharing this informational update with you – as one of our stakeholders – to illustrate the activities currently underway to ensure long-term prosperity and quality of life in Southwest Central Indiana. We hope you find this information helpful and encourage you to share it with colleagues. If you have any questions or comments, please contact us

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