Building Community Connections

 April 2012

 Issue #1


The Indiana Community Asset Inventory and Rankings, sponsored by Building Better Communities and created by the Center for Business and Economic Research, was released statewide recently. The ICAIR is a system that evaluates various key community factors that reflect each Indiana county’s relative position with regard to quality of place: education, government efficiency, community health and more. This information is intended to provide local decision-makers and citizens with objective data that influence the overarching quality of life and local economic conditions.

The ICAIR website can be found here: The information provides a basis upon which BBC can work with communities to improve their quality of life and positioning for community economic development.


BBC’s Basic Economic Development Course (BEDC) was recently reaccredited by the International Economic Development Council. This course has been offered by Ball State University since 1984 and has served the practical economic development training needs of nearly 2,000 participants. The BEDC is one of 28 accredited courses in North America and has been recognized for its strong partnership with sponsors by the University Economic Development Association.


BBC assisted Noble County Economic Development Corporation to create “Noble Vision,” a county-wide focus on the future led by local business and civic leaders. BBC staff facilitated Steering Committee meetings and reviewed all seven active comprehensive plans in the county. Heather Kemper assimilated nine common themes from them and defined each. Dick Heupel and Kemper facilitated three community listening sessions.

Noble Vision states: “Noble County provides world-class learning opportunities, a vibrant and diverse economy and a superior quality of life.” Each of the three pillars is defined more specifically. Heupel’s guest editorial on the topic ran in a number of area newspapers including the News-Sentinel, one of Ft. Wayne’s two major daily outlets. It can be found here:


BBC, in collaboration with Dr. Jennifer Bott, conducted a Community Attributes Study: Warsaw, Indiana, for OrthoWorx and its Orthopedics Capital Foundation, Inc. Warsaw, Indiana is home to an orthopedic industry cluster that has successfully competed in the global economy for talent and market share for several decades. Recognizing that there exist challenges to the future viability of this cluster in Warsaw, a study was done to define community attributes, identify perceived deficiencies and recommend strategies and actions that are achievable and designed to close identified gaps in quality of life issues that will benefit the entire community of Warsaw. BBC staff interviewed over sixty community and business leaders, elected officials, young professionals and residents of the area. BBC designed an electronic survey in which 1,196 employees in Warsaw’s three large orthopedic companies took part. Community attributes and opportunities were identified in the areas of Quality of Life, Education, Healthcare, Child Care and Adult Care Services, Arts and Culture, Entertainment and Recreation, Transportation, Inclusiveness and Diversity and the Economy. Asset quilting, through recommended opportunities in each of these areas, will provide steps for bridging gaps to create a place rich in talent and ideas, physical and cultural amenities and people.


There are 8 BBC Fellows projects presently in operation. These projects, their community partners and faculty mentors are listed below.

1. CASA - Volunteer Training and Recruitment Strategies for Court Appointed Special Advocates

Community Partner:     The Delaware County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Program
Faculty Mentor:            Peggy Fisher, Department of Communication Studies

The Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program in Delaware County needed strategies for increasing their volunteer base. In its second semester of work for this community partner, a new project team worked to implement the volunteer recruitment, training and retention ideas put into motion by a previous Fellows project team. This included the development of new training materials and a new volunteer support program. Students organized and implemented a new Non-Advocate volunteer program as well. They also produced marketing tools to strengthen the CASA program with a mix of digital technology and event planning ideas. The team was also responsible for organizing and facilitating the inaugural fundraising event for the CASA Executive Committee which is a 5k Run/Walk.

2. Charter Schools: Patterns of Innovation – A New Architecture for a New Education
(Emerging Media Fellows)

Community Partner:     Office of Charter Schools, Ball State University
Faculty Mentor:            Pam Harwood, Department of Architecture

Students from a variety of disciplines worked with selected charter schools in Indiana to research best practices and high performance school design. Their goal was to develop ways to incorporate environmentally sustainable strategies into the planning and design of charter school buildings. This project consisted of developing solutions for both new construction and the adaptive reuse of existing buildings. Students were also involved in traveling to the schools, interviewing charter school students and faculty, discussing and presenting ideas to school administration and board members, contributing to school profiles and examining curriculum, funding, and facility planning.

3. Banking on a Better Economy

Community Partner:     First Merchants Bank Corporation
Faculty Mentor:            Rod Davis, Department of Marketing and Management

Part of a Miller College of Business Honors Program marketing class, this marketing research project team developed an annual survey for chief executive officers, presidents, and owners of small businesses in Indiana. Survey response data provided opinions concerning the conditions of the local, state and national economy and the impact on their operations. Those results were used to better understand the current state of small business and their owner’s perceptions of the future. Students will administer it to small businesses in various industries throughout Indiana as well as compile and analyze the results to develop a formal report.

4. Henry County Heritage Cooperative; Making History and Culture Significant in our Local Communities
(Emerging Media Fellows)

Community Partners:     Henry County Historical Society
Faculty Mentor:              Chris Flook, Department of Telecommunications

By developing a website and by producing a video series highlighting historic Henry County, students helped the Henry County Historical Society in its mission to educate the public and to promote the Society’s efforts. Student teams also helped raise awareness by promoting and initiating collaboration with other historical societies and museums in the county.

5. Henry County HomeTown Competitiveness School Survey

Community Partner:     Henry County Community Foundation
Faculty Mentor:            Melinda Messineo, Department of Sociology

For the past several years, a group of Henry County leaders has participated in the HomeTown Competitiveness Program (HTC) under the guidance of the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA). The program is designed to stimulate economic and community betterment. Now HTC will explore the strengths and weaknesses of the educational experience as perceived by the students of the region with the help of local school administrators and a Ball State student team. The project was carried out as part of a research methods course.

6. Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library Interpretation and Technology Enhancement
(Emerging Media Fellows)

Community Partner:     Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library
Faculty Mentor:            Ron Morris, Department of History

Students were directly involved in expanding the interactive vision of one of Indianapolis’ newest attractions, the nationally recognized Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. The team designed various dimensional aspects for the museum that will bring the Hoosier author’s work and life into sharp focus through video, audio and mobile interpretation. The group was able to contact and interview the author’s family and friends for a personal insight into one of America’s most eccentric icons, which will be used to tell the story of Vonnegut through various media at the museum.

7. Old Stories Made New – The Life of George Rogers Clark
(Emerging Media Fellows)

Community Partner:     George Rogers Clark National Memorial, Indiana Department of Natural Resources: Division of State Parks
Faculty Mentor:            Ron Morris, Department of History 
                                    Daniel Ingram, Department of History

This student team used their imagination and technical skills to bridge 18th century America to 21st century elementary students. Using up-to-date historiography, this team replaced fading film, missing perspectives, and outdated documentaries with a new social studies video curriculum about the life of Revolutionary War figure George Rogers Clark. The American Revolution west of the Appalachian Mountains is an important test standard for which there is no effective curriculum for fourth and fifth grade students. Ball State students incorporated digital animation, public relations, education, history, marketing, and public relations to create a dynamic tool for learning.

8. Sustainability Reporting for Minnetrista Cultural Center

Community Partner:     Minnetrista Cultural Center
Faculty Mentor:            Gwendolen White, Department of Accounting

Students learned about the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Reporting Guidelines and applied their knowledge in preparing a sustainability report for Muncie’s Minnetrista Cultural Center. Minnetrista's sustainability report communicates the organization's environmental, economic, and social impacts. The report not only communicates these impacts to stakeholders, but allows the organization to monitor its progress in becoming more sustainable. Undergraduates and graduates from a variety of majors acquired experience that puts their work on par with what has become mainstream reporting among the largest 250 companies in the world.


The Indianapolis Center, in its quest to become ever more directly connected to developments in the metropolitan Indianapolis region, is engaged in an increasing array of events and activities. Following the success of Super Bowl-related activities, the Center is determined to be aggressive in pursuit of such events. The following is a sampling of recent and upcoming activities.

  • Hendricks Regional Hospital Strategic Planning Meeting
  • Lightspeed Systems Technology Officer Certification Exam
  • Consortium for School Networking Conference
  • Indiana Association for Community Economic Development Training Program

The Indianapolis Center also continues to serve the university’s need for centrally-located gatherings in the city. Among recent activities was a joint reception involving the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education and Teachers College, and, later this month, an Indiana Deans Consortium meeting and a meeting of alumni intended to assist with refining the vision for the Center. Also, the Department of Telecommunications engaged 50 public information officers in a crisis communication training session and the Office of Admissions conducted a student orientation “best practices” session. In addition, the Center serves as a course site for various programs including the MA in Urban Design and the Ed.S in Educational Leadership. In an effort to enhance its appeal and functionality, improvements to the Center’s exterior have been completed including new digital screens with updated images displaying the best-of-the-best that Ball State University offers.


Spring is a busy season for the E.B. and Bertha C. Ball Center. Among the Center’s more prominent activities are three Town and Gown Conversations programs.

This year’s third Town and Gown Conversations dinner of the 2011-2012 season, on April 16, will feature Cathy Akers-Jordan, member of the Titanic Historical Society and the Titanic International Society and co-author Report Into the Loss of the SS Titanic, A Centennial Reappraisal, which completely re-evaluates the loss of the Titanic based on evidence that has come to light since the discovery of the wreck in 1985. Since its release this year, the book has quickly become the definitive ‘go-to’ reference book commemorating 100 years of the Titanic.

The final Town and Gown Conversations dinner of the 2011 – 2012 season, scheduled for May 23, features an “encore” appearance by Professor Bob Brier titled “Napoleon in Egypt: The Beginning of Egyptology.” Professor Brier is recognized as one of the world's foremost experts on mummies. As Senior Research Fellow at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University he has conducted pioneering research in mummification practices and has investigated some of the world's most famous mummies, including King Tut, Vladimir Lenin, Rameses the Great, Eva Peron, Marquise Tai, and the Medici family of Renaissance Italy.

Town and Gown Conversations is hosting a special luncheon and speaker, on April 20, in honor of Martin D. Schwartz, longtime friend of the E.B. and Bertha C. Ball Center. “The Muncie Jewish Oral History Project: 1978 and 2002” will be presented by Dr. Warren VanderHill. Both Muncie Jewish oral history projects were originally commissioned by Mr. Schwartz.

Building Better Communities
Carmichael Hall (CA), room 104
Ball State University
Muncie, Indiana 47306

Hours: Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Summer hours: 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Phone: 765-285-2773
Fax: 765-285-4989
View E-mail Address