Indiana Success Stories
The University of Notre Dame is located adjacent to South Bend, Indiana. The historically strained relationship between the University and South Bend continues to improve, partly thanks to the concerted efforts of Rev. Edward Mallory, the University’s 16th president who served from 1987 until 2005. ‘Monk’ Mallory actively engaged with the community, put pressure on local leaders to revitalize poorer neighborhoods in South Bend, and helped to rebuild a homeless shelter.
Rev. Mallory was integral in creating the Robinson Community Learning Center (RCLC). The RCLC was created in 2001 as an off-campus educational initiative of the University in partnership with the Northeast Neighborhood residents of South Bend. The Center offers Youth and Adult Programs, with classes ranging from Shakespeare and LegoRobotics for young students, to computer skills for seniors and English as a new language class for adults. Over 300 Notre Dame students volunteer here ever year, and many more elsewhere in the community, with a total of 80% of current students volunteering somewhere in the community.
The University has also committed to building a state-of-the-art turbo machinery facility in downtown South Bend, rather than locating it on some of the many acres of land it already owns. Partnering with companies such as GE, Roles Royce, Pratt engines and others, the downtown location will help continue to strengthen the relationship with the city and bring new skilled jobs to the community. The campus has also committed to hire 60 new jobs though this project.
A bit to the south, Elkhart is known as the `RV capital of the world’. Following the economic downturn of 2008, the RV industry was hit especially hard and Elkhart suffered from 20.3% unemployment in 2009. Despite economic setbacks, the 51,000 residents elected to support their schools by passing a $600 per household funding referendum, deemed necessary after the state legislature capped property taxes at 1% of assessed value. Unemployment has recently plummeted to less than 5%.
Elkhart has also built upon its strengths and location. It is home to the largest rail yard east of the Mississippi. Downtown Elkhart is experiencing a tremendous revitalization, thanks to many public and private partnerships. Located between Chicago and Detroit, and with 15,000 daily commuters, there is opportunity for living space to compliment the many new downtown businesses, restaurants, and entertainment options. In particular, the Lerner Theater underwent an $18 million renovation between 2008 and 2011 and is now the gem of the downtown.
Ohio Success Stories
Findlay, Ohio has a number of companies that provide a strong economic base for the community, including Marathon Oil, MPLX, Cooper Tires, Whirlpool, and others. The town faces a rare problem of having plenty of jobs but often is short the skilled labor to fill the positions, so they have invested heavily in training programs. A community college, the University of Findlay, and County Wide Trade School all specialize in teaching hard and soft skills essential for adults. The city focuses on children early with foundation focused pre-k through 3rd grade programs, and middle and high school students with its recently adopted common core curriculum. All these programs and the city has still managed to keep budgets trimmed, expecting a 9 million dollar surplus within a few years. Many of these lessons were learned through trial and error but the Mayor mentioned that examples the town looks to include Irving, TX and Coral Springs, FL.
Thanks to strong support from the Mayor of Akron, the local government, and a number of community partners, The National Inventors Hall of Fame School-Center for STEM Learning opened in 2009 for grades 5-8. The School focuses on problem-based learning to create a unique STEM-focused education for its students. The School’s founding partners include Akron Public Schools, the City of Akron, Invent Now, the University of Akron, and the Greater Akron Chamber. Following the success of the middle school, a STEM high school, housed on the University of Akron campus, opened in 2012. The goal of the high school is to educate students interested in STEM-related fields, prepare them for study at the University of Akron, and then train them to work in one of the many available tech-related jobs in the area (perhaps at a business started at the Akron Global Business Accelerator).
The Akron Police Department was one of the first in the country to implement officer crisis intervention program (CIP) training to address mental health issues. The city struggles with an increase in heroin use, and the Police are working to coordinate resources to locate and charge drug dealers. They have also begun using naloxone, a drug used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose. It has helped paramedics save dozens of lives. A team of officers works to identify residents with illegal guns, and community policing unites help respond to address a variety of neighborhood issues and work closely with the city council.