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  • 2010-12-09 08:00:40
  • Article ID: 571598

Students Advise INdiana Sustainability Alliance on Green Economic Development

  • (Left to right) Sungho Roh, Mike Lin, Désirée Valentine, Carl Briggs, Brian Seickel and Caroline Storey.

George Vlahakis University Communications 812-855-0846

Joy Fischer Ice Miller LLP 317-236-2489

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Mirroring an approach that Indiana has taken to the life sciences industry, the state's economic development efforts could capitalize on existing clusters of wind energy and automotive-related companies to foster a more sustainable and profitable business environment.

That's the lead finding by a panel of second-year MBA students at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, who were asked to participate in a competitive project for the INdiana Sustainability Alliance (INSA).

The Kelley School's Supply Chain and Global Management Academy partnered with INSA to conduct a case competition with five teams of students. They were tasked with determining the current state of sustainability and clean tech industries in Indiana and offered recommendations on projects and programs that could be implemented today to further support and economically grow this industry.

"We were thrilled to be approached by the INdiana Sustainability Alliance and its partners in business, policy, science and education to contribute ideas for further energy and environmental sustainability in Indiana," said Carl Briggs, clinical associate professor of operations and decision technologies in the Kelley School. "Our students enjoyed working on something where they expect to see the longer term results."

"The insights and results the students of the Kelly School's Supply Chain and Global Management Academy produced were nothing short of remarkable," said Alex Forman, INSA co-founder and partner at Ice Miller LLP. "The students really focused on the industries already present in Indiana and produced actionable items for Indiana to focus on to further develop the clean tech industry."

Paul Jones, another Ice Miller partner and co-founder, added, "One of the goals of INSA as it moves into its next stage is to host similar events each year that bring together groups in the sustainability and clean tech sectors that may not otherwise work together."

Among the students' recommendations:

• Identify clusters leveraging Indiana's strengths. Indiana economic development leaders could concentrate on green industries that embrace Indiana's strengths to maximize chance of development, including its successes with wind power and auto manufacturing.

"There's already hybrid cars that are coming that will be built in Indiana," said Mike Lin, a supply chain and finance double major from San Francisco. "What needs to happen in the future is to convert all the traditional car manufacturing for hybrids and a more sustainable auto industry."

• Foster cluster development with targeted methodology that encourages collaboration, a Cluster Development Initiative. Potential clusters could include focuses on agriculture, transportation, energy storage, generation and efficiency, recycling and waste elimination and green building.

• Target INSA's mission of generating $300 million in energy efficiency savings with an energy audit pilot program. Manufacturing companies could see savings of $55,000 from each audit and the state's 600 manufacturers alone could realize a total savings of about $7 million alone.

• Capitalize on Indiana's established transportation industry. Companies already in Indiana are involved in engine and electric motor R&D, as well as in energy storage, vehicle engineering and systems integration.

• Host a Green Indiana Expo to work toward INSA's goal of $400 million in supplier revenues. Networking could go far beyond manufacturing to many other parts of the business-to-business supply chain.

• Indiana should continue to build on its wind energy generation industry and establish or attract companies to the state that serve its needs, including the production of turbines and other equipment used to harness the wind's power. Over the next 10 years, they project that more than 25,000 jobs could be created at wind-related companies.

"Our vision is that by these companies connecting with each other that they could perhaps together produce wind turbines with all components from Indiana," said Caroline Storey, a supply chain major from Kansas City, Mo. "That way, you grow the Indiana economy, you have less transportation costs and you have a more cost effective product.

"Our solution is that by having these clusters, you not only can work with each other, but you also attract other companies to come to Indiana because they realize that there's a presence," she added.

"The idea is that as businesses grow more sustainable, these partnerships also will lead to innovation in Indiana," said Désirée Valentine, a supply chain major from Bloomington, Ind.

The MBA program's Supply Chain Academy holds two case competitions each year that involve actual for-profit companies and projects. The INSA project was the first time that its students had tackled sustainability as a statewide issue.

"There's a lot of interest in sustainability … Teams that worked on this project were given a very high-level challenge, and ultimately their goal was to come up with solutions that not only advanced sustainability, but also improve the way we do business in Indiana," Briggs said.

"These are business solutions that support sustainability and the development within Indiana of sustainability industries and the connections between them," he added. "If the solutions don't make business sense or create value for the organizations that are participating, then it won't happen … I think that is one contribution that all of these teams made."

The students, who also include Sungho Roh of Seoul, South Korea; and Brian Seickel of Lake Ariel, Penn., hope their proposals are part of the building blocks for a new era of economic growth that lessons environmental impact on the state.

"One of the things that we were really asked to do was take a look at the way things are right now and not what we'd like to do in 20 years," said Storey said. Valentine added, "Our project was specifically framed as recommendations that were actionable."

About the INdiana Sustainability Alliance

The INdiana Sustainability Alliance promotes the growth of the sustainable development, green building, renewable energy, water management, and clean technology industries in Indiana. During 2009, the INSA Steering Committee refocused and developed the next phase of the organization. With input from a variety of organizations and individuals, a strategy for growth and increased capabilities has been developed. The next phase will include increased opportunities for members to network, learn, realize cost savings, and have access to a collaborative work environment. All of this will be made possible through the new membership structure. For more detailed information, please visit

About Ice Miller LLP

Founded in 1910, Ice Miller LLP is one of the largest law firms in Indianapolis with a nationally recognized reputation in many of its practice areas. With additional offices in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and DuPage County, Ill., the firm has over 230 lawyers, 37 paraprofessionals and over 250 support staff members. Ice Miller is a full-service firm with the resources it needs to counsel its clients and deliver quality legal advice. The firm's Green Industries Initiative advises clients in obtaining financing for development, utilizing tax credits for renewable energy projects, compliance issues relating to green development and clean technology, protecting, acquiring and profiting from clean technology and green services, zoning and real estate issues, renewable and wind power development, including renewable energy credits, carbon credits and carbon offsets. For more information, please visit

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