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Last modified: Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Bloomington business, education and government leaders visit Capitol Hill

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A group of Indiana University officials and Bloomington community leaders traveled today (April 28) to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Indiana's congressional delegation and build support for local economic development efforts.

The 14-member delegation included Kenneth Gros Louis, interim senior vice president for academic affairs and chancellor of the IU Bloomington campus; Michael Diekhoff, president of the Bloomington City Council; Joyce Poling, president of the Monroe County Commission; and Steve Howard, president of the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce.

The annual trip is co-sponsored by the Bloomington Economic Development Corp. and IU, and, since 1998, has been part of a larger effort to mobilize the business community as advocates for the IUB campus and the community.

The agenda included meetings with Sen. Richard Lugar, Rep. Baron Hill and Rep. Steve Buyer, as well as staff of Rep. John Hostettler and Sen. Evan Bayh. The group concluded the day's activities with a reception sponsored by the IU Alumni Club of Washington, D.C.

"Over the last several years, IU and Bloomington leaders have been working together on our federal requests," said Gros Louis. "We are pleased with our progress, which has resulted in better coordination of economic development efforts for the region."

"The trip has done a lot to build relationships with our congressional delegation," added Lee Marchant, chairman of the IU/BEDC Business Partnership Committee and president of LJM Enterprises. "There's a huge difference in the reaction you see from legislators. Lobbyists go in to see them on a continuous basis, but when grassroots people come in -- the voters -- it really makes a difference in getting things done."

In addition to expressing appreciation for past support of local initiatives, the delegation discussed regional concerns such as the future of Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center, maintenance needs of the control tower at Monroe County Airport and local highways, and west side economic revitalization projects.

They also discussed several IU efforts, including the Biocomplexity Institute and IU's role in the Central Indiana Life Science Initiative, and thanked the congressmen for their support of the Midwest Proton Radiotherapy Institute. The contingent also underscored the importance of continued federal funding for basic research and the role that information technology will play in building a strong economy.

The partnership is building on earlier efforts that have generated results for the university and community. Its members have worked together on proposals for federal training resources to address the needs of dislocated workers and for infrastructure enhancements. For example, the group has worked together in past years to seek support for city plans to convert the former McDoel Switch Yard into a new urban park.

Other local officials on today's trip were Lee Carmichael, president of Weddle Brothers Construction; Mike Gentile, executive director of the Southern Indiana Business Alliance; Mayer Maloney, publisher of the Herald-Times; and Linda Williamson, BEDC president.

IU's contingent also included Lynn Coyne, assistant vice president for real estate and economic development; John Walda, executive director of federal relations; Bill Stephan, vice president for public affairs and government relations; Kirk White, special assistant for external relations; and Clint Merkel, assistant director of Hoosiers for Higher Education.