Local News: Purdue and Westgate ‘forge a new path’ (7/24/17)

Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman discusses the importance of supporting entrepreneurship at Westgate Academy Monday evening.

By Kristen Inman

The Westgate Academy Training and Conference center was decked out in black and gold Monday evening when people gathered to celebrate the partnership between Purdue and WestGate.

The partnership would become even stronger as it was announced Purdue will take over control of Westgate from STIMULUS Engineering.

Dan Hasler, CEO of Purdue Research Foundation, emceed the event and opened by saying that Purdue hopes it can honor the work done so far to benefit Crane and “all the great communities that surround this place.” The move will mean further Purdue courses offered in addition to others, an on-campus patent attorney, and “a few more start-ups would be just fine too,” Hasler joked, hinting at what is to come.

Hasler introduced Greg Deason, Senior VP of the Purdue Research Foundation and Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship.

Deason said Purdue and Westgate were inundated by support from local city councils and economic development groups, and reiterated Purdue’s desire to “Take the next idea and create something meaningful.”

“There is a call to action here tonight,” said Deason in closing. “If you have a big idea… come see us.”

Jim Schellinger, Indiana Secretary of Commerce, said the state has never been in a better position for economic development. Schellinger said Governer Holcomb and the state aim to bring technology to the public in order to create jobs and opportunities “to take Indiana to the next level.”

Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman, Chairman of the board of Radius, said that the “partnership is going to catapult us to new heights,” with the potential to boost the economy and opportunities for southern Hoosiers as companies are drawn to the area.

“If you’re not supporting entrepreneurship,” Skillman said, “you will be the least, the last, the lost in economic development.”

Skillman said this vision for the region will require the efforts of everyone in order to become a reality.

“We need to go out, share the good news. Together, we will move our region forward,” Skillman said. “Crane, Westgate and Purdue have our hearty congratulations.”

John Mensch, President of Westgate Authority, announced that “there will be a hotel at Westgate… and we will see a restaurant or two.” One of Mensch’s children owns Comfort Suites in French Lick, and says the hotel will be an anchor for restaurants and other businesses.

Mensch also noted of the partnership between Purdue and Westgate: “Is Purdue the right fit? Half of the engineers at Crane came from Purdue. If you bring the power of Purdue here–side by side with Crane and and Radius–this whole being created is greater than the sum of individual parts. It will be momentous.”

Captain Mark Oesterreich, Commanding Officer of NSWC Crane, said “collaborative partnerships help us maintain our advantages against our adversaries.”

Gary Bertoline, Dean of Purdue Polytechnic Institute, said that in this day and age, professors are training their students for jobs which “won’t exist in 10 years” while also training them “for new jobs we can’t even imagine yet.” As rapidly advancing technology and skill-demands have impacted teaching, Bertoline says new courses at Westgate will bring the same adaptive learning environment to Crane.

Hasler said the initiative was two years in the making, and none of it would be possible without Mensch’s and Westgate’s vision.

Hasler concluded the event by reiterating, “Purdue did not come to Westgate to fail–but to help the community succeed more than it could possibly imagine.”

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