Archive for October, 2005

Update on South Bend Tech Park

It turns out I may have spoken too soon in my post on Friday about the lack of developments with a South Bend area Certified Technology Park. The South Bend Tribune reports that Notre Dame is now officially “studying” a proposal from the City:

The city has been in discussions with Notre Dame and Indiana University South Bend to build a park that would have a combination of research facilities and space for businesses. It would be called the Research Park at Notre Dame.

The city looked at a variety of sites but would like to see the park built near the Notre Dame campus, Kendall said. The proposal asks for about 13 acres of university property at Eddy and the new Edison Road.

Notre Dame already is planning a retail and housing development nearby on Eddy Street. The areas would complement each other well and Kendall said other research parks have seen an advantage to being close to campus.

Kendall said the city will apply for the park to become a state-certified technology park. State-certified parks are able to capture up to $5 million in incremental sales tax and payroll employment tax revenues.

For now, the city is in no rush and is waiting to see where Notre Dame stands.

“It’s their property and it’s their announcement to make when the time comes,” Kendall said.

This is good news for the community, and I look forward to helping both Notre Dame and South Bend in any way I can on this project.

Add comment October 9th, 2005

Nanotechnology Center Opens in Indiana

buckyballThe Associated Press ran a story this week highlighting nanotechnology and Purdue University’s new Birck Nanotechnology Center:

Purdue’s modernistic 187,000-square-foot Birck center, set to be dedicated Oct. 8, aims to put it ahead in the nanotech race by bringing together under one roof researchers whose work was once spread across 23 Purdue laboratories. The center dominates Discovery Park, the high-tech research complex on the West Lafayette campus…

…the Birck facility one of the nation’s most innovative nanotech centers, largely because of its emphasis on bringing together the far-flung field’s many disciplines…

Projects, including work to create devices to improve early tumor and cancer detection, unfold in state-of-the-art labs designed to control noise, temperature, humidity and electromagnetic interference from radio waves.

I enjoy staying on top of the latest news and developments in nanotech, and I am glad the Birck center is finally getting off the ground.

The project was initiated under the Certified Technology Park Program that was created by the General Assembly in 2002. Several such parks have begun development – mainly in relation to universities around the state. South Bend and the University of Notre Dame (who has its own nanotechnology program) are working to bring the concept to Northern Indiana, but it seems to be simmering on the back burner at the moment.

Indiana has been a leader in many innovative technology programs – from the public 21st Century Fund, to the non-profit Indiana Venture Center, and the technology trade association TechPoint. Both public and private initatives such as these are crucial to moving Indiana into the next decade as a strong competitor and global leader.

On a related note, and an update to my earlier post about renewable energy in Indiana, the innovative BioTown, USA project seems to be moving right along (hat tip to the Indiana Law Blog).

1 comment October 7th, 2005

RegFlex: Telecom Reform Session

reglexMonday’s meeting of the Regulatory Flexibility Committee was something of a disappointment. The topic on the agenda was “Telecommunications Reform,” but we only heard testimony from representatives of industry-funded think tanks.

The final presentation of the day was the most interesting. I do not have their names because they were not on the agenda, but representatives from Fairnet Wireless discussed their implementation of a wireless broadband network in the rural areas between Valparaiso and Lafayette.

Carrol County Rural Electric Cooperative partnered with Fairnet several years ago to provide broadband internet service where the big phone companies will not invest.

fairnetFor a relatively small capital investment, they established affordable wireless coverage over 7500 square miles to 1200 customers at speeds of 1.5MB download/512kB upload.

Frankly, at my home here in the city of South Bend, I do not have access to those broadband speeds on a landline – let alone on a wireless network. That someone living in rural Delphi has better options than someone in South Bend speaks to the sad state of telecom in Indiana and the country at large.

Telecommunications reform is a complicated issue. While it may not receive as much attention as Daylight Saving Time or BMV branch closures, it is far more important to Indiana and the nation in the long run.

Access to information is the critical infrastructure need of this century. We can not continue to fall behind other states and the rest of the world.

It is important to have all sides of the issue at the table when the Legislature considers formulating new policy.

2 comments October 5th, 2005

October Commission on Courts

courtsThis Monday, the Commission on Courts met in the Statehouse to consider more requests for changes and additions to local judicial systems.

The biggest request was made by the Marion County Superior Court. Judges Jane Magnus-Simpson and Cale Bradford made the presentation with support from John Kautzman of the Indianapolis Bar Association.

Their statistical analysis showed a definite need for new judicial officers. Of particular note was the fact that while St. Joseph and Allen Counties’ judicial officers are 100% funded by the state, Marion County has only 60% of its 70 judicial officers paid for with state funds.

Their proposal concluded with a request for four new judges and four new magistrates over the next several years. The Indianapolis Star wrote about the issue here.

Other requests made to the Commission included a new juvenile magistrate for Lake County and a proposal by Madison County to convert their County Courts into Superior Courts.

I was not able to stay for the entire session, as I also had to attend a meeting of the Regulatory Flexibility Committee the same day. I will post about that meeting tomorrow.

2 comments October 4th, 2005

Stopping Sewage Overflows

overflowThe South Bend Tribune ran an article today that points to an interesting, if somewhat unsettling, internet resource. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has begun posting details of sewer overflows that happen across Indiana almost every time we have a good rainfall.

Most Hoosiers probably do not realize it, but almost one billion gallons of raw sewage overflows from sanitary systems into our streams, rivers, and lakes every year.

This is an expensive, but necessary, problem to remedy. Last year the legislature passed SB 260, which gave local governments some variances for overflows – provided they have a plan in place for fixing the problem.

Rebuilding sewer systems will cost the states billions of dollars in the long run, but threats to human health (and sanctions from the federal government) demand we take action. SB 260 is a step toward removing sewage from our waterways once and for all.

Add comment October 3rd, 2005

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