When OrthoWorx was exploring ways to enhance the community and meet the needs of local orthopedic professionals, they reached out to Ball State.

OrthoWorx is a community-based initiative that supports sustainability and growth of the orthopedic industry, reaping social and economic benefits for Kosciusko County and Warsaw, Indiana, the Orthopedic Capital of the World. Firms such as Biomet, DePuy, and Zimmer account for a combined $11 billion in annual sales and nearly 13,000 jobs, which is almost 45 percent of the employment in Kosciusko County.

"Ball State's Building Better Communities (BBC) has an expertise that we needed in order to continue the growth in the Warsaw community and orthopedic industry," says Matt Hall, OrthoWorx Strategic Advisory Board member and project director of BioCrossroads.

Led by Ball State associate project manager Sharon Canaday, the BBC study in 2012 included employee surveys and resident interviews to gauge perceptions of the rural community and the orthopedic companies. Research examined Warsaw’s amenities, quality of life, and how the community can foster innovation and entrepreneurship and attract creative professionals.

"More people today are making employment decisions based on quality of life," says Brad Bishop, OrthoWorx executive director. "We want to make sure the Warsaw community offers what current and potential employees are looking for, and Ball State helped us further that goal."

Recommendations from the study have spurred several community enhancements, including a dedicated web portal for community information, funding for a new bike trailway, and expanded educational and youth programming at the community theatre. Also under consideration are enhanced day care availability, a community conference and cultural center, and additional diversity initiatives to engage international employees.

"We see an opportunity to bring together what is best about life in our region and create a focal point where residents and potential residents alike can learn about the advantages of living here," says Sheryl Conley, '82 MBA '93, OrthoWorx chief executive officer.