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BioCrossroads Releases Statewide Ag Strategy Recommendations; Report Identifies Areas of Greatest Job Growth Potential


WEBWIRE

INDIANAPOLIS -- 1/21/2005 -- The BioCrossroads Agriculture Advisory Board today released its recommendations for a statewide ag strategy. These recommendations are based on a year-long effort to catalog Indiana’s ag assets and complete a comprehensive analysis of Indiana’s strengths and weaknesses in this sector.

In early 2002, BioCrossroads completed an industry targeting process that identified agricultural biotechnology and several other science areas as key economic opportunities for Indiana. The ag advisory board, led by Dr. Ronald Meeusen, BioCrossroads Chief Scientific Officer, was formed to explore commercial opportunities within each area. Almost immediately, the need for a comprehensive analysis of Indiana agriculture sector was identified before commercial opportunities could be evaluated.

Throughout most of 2004, the BioCrossroads Ag Advisory Board conducted this broad analysis of Indiana’s ag economy, with the findings detailed in the ag interim report (found at www.biocrossroads.com/agreport.pdf). The following recommendations to maintain and grow Indiana’s ag job base are based upon this analysis.

-- Establish a central authority to drive economic development

-- Focus priorities on specific ag clusters

-- Implement cluster-specific strategies

The report was developed under leadership from Dr. Ronald Meeusen and Robert Swain, President and CEO of Blue River Consulting. Other organizations represented on the Ag Advisory Board include the Agribusiness Council of Indiana, Agribusiness Group, Inc., Burrill & Company, Demeter Grains, Dow AgroSciences, Indiana Farm Bureau, Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association, Indiana Health Industry Forum, Indiana Rural Development Council, Office of the Ag Commissioner, Purdue University, Richmond Baking, Szuhaj & Associates, LLC and United Feeds.

“We hope these three recommendations will serve as the cornerstone for a much needed statewide ag strategy,” said Dr. Meeusen. “Indiana has tremendous opportunities to leverage its existing strengths and until now, this industry has not been looked at from a holistic view. With input from public and private organizations from all over the state and the tireless effort of our ag advisory board, we were able to recommend some very specific examples of what the state can do to create jobs and new business opportunities in this sector.”

The first recommendation, establishing a central authority that will drive ag economic development, is essential because many ag-related activities currently reside in various agencies and programs. This authority would be responsible for integrating ag into the state’s overall economic development strategy, integrating and implementing a statewide ag strategy, annually updating the strengths and weaknesses of Indiana’s ag economy and establishing metrics along with tracking and publishing progress.

The second recommendation is the result of findings from the ag interim report, which was published in December 2004. This report identified five key clusters that have the greatest impact on Indiana’s ag economy. These clusters - Baking, Canning, Grains, Pork/Beef and Wood - represent 84% of Indiana’s ag economy and were identified as areas of immediate priority. This recommendation seeks to solidify the proposal in the ag interim report that Indiana’s ag economy be viewed holistically.

The third recommendation is to utilize six specific strategies to expand and strengthen Indiana’s ag economy. These strategies will impact the five priority clusters plus the Dairy, Poultry and Beverages clusters identified in the ag interim report. The strategies are to:

-- Develop a global branding and marketing strategy for Indiana’s wood products

-- Introduce advanced manufacturing techniques to improve the competitiveness of Indiana’s hardwood companies

-- Create mechanisms to produce, distribute and plant improved seedlings

-- Develop policies to maintain and support Indiana’s rural workforce

-- Create a national food processing research center as a part of growing the food processing industry

-- Position Indiana as a national pilot site for integrated, environmentally sound production of food and bio-energy

“The ag industry in Indiana is literally at a crossroads,” said David Johnson, BioCrossroads President and CEO. “Its success will depend on our ability to find and utilize new technologies, attract federal funding and new business opportunities to the state. The strategies proposed by the ag advisory board will support these efforts and position Indiana as a national leader in emerging ag industries,” Johnson continued. “The ability to create, support and grow jobs in this sector impacts all parts of the state.”

About BioCrossroads:

BioCrossroads is Indiana’s life science initiative, a public-private collaboration that supports the region’s research and corporate strengths while encouraging new business development. With government, industry and academic resources aligned to accelerate business growth, the region is fertile ground for investors and entrepreneurs to build new ventures. Learn more at www.biocrossroads.com.



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