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BEDFORD, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Bedford-based economic development agency Radius Indiana has renewed its relationship with Japanese trade officials. Members of the organization met the newest Counsul-General of Japan and with members of the Japan External Trade Organization, which is based in Chicago.

Radius Indiana says the event was Consul-General Hiroshi Tajima’s first official speaking engagement in Indiana since he was appointed to the position last month. Radius Indiana is a regional partnership representing eight counties in southwest central Indiana.

“The Radius region, the state of Indiana, and Japan understand that one of the best ways to create more opportunities and prosperity for our people is to look outside our borders,” said Becky Skillman, chair of the Radius Board of Directors. “The grand evening and enthusiastic information exchange should propel the partnership forward.”

Tajima spoke about the current relationship between Japan and Indiana and the Japanese economy. For many members of the Radius, this was their first opportunity to hear from Japanese officials in terms of economic development opportunities.

“The leadership of Radius Indiana understands the deep value of and supports manufacturing investment from Japan,” said Ralph Inforzato, JETRO chief executive director. “Their leadership, particularly the mayors we met from southern Indiana, are truly focused on relationship building with JETRO to better understand how to approach and to make relationships with Japanese companies considering investment expansion in the Midwest.”

Radius Indiana says there are 344 Japanese business with facilities in Indiana, providing more than 70,000 jobs.

CRAWFORD COUNTY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – The Crawford County Economic Development Partnership is partnering with Mainstream Fiber Networks in Brown County on a nearly $6 million broadband project. The project, which includes $3 million in state funding, aims build and grow high-speed fiber internet throughout the county.

The project received funding from the recently-announced second round of Governor Eric Holcomb’s Next Level Connections Broadband grant program. The grant required a local match of more than $2.7 million, which the county secured.

Holcomb’s $51 million program will support a total of 50 broadband infrastructure expansion projects around the state. The county says the total for its project will reach more than $5.7 million.

“Our community and our economy must grow and with the NLC connections grant coupled with the public and private investment, Crawford County will be able to grow the population, young families, and drive the next generation of entrepreneurs to the county,” said Michael Thissen, executive director of the Crawford County Economic Development Partnership. “We could not do this without high-speed fiber.”

Thissen, who led planning efforts with the broadband service provider and the community, says it used data from the U.S. Census Bureau as well as more than 900 surveys and emails to strategically create the plan. He says high-speed fiber access was the top priority.

“Mainstream Fiber Networks is thrilled to connect Crawford County residents and businesses with fast, affordable and reliable internet,” said Bryan Gabriel, Mainstream Fiber Networks founder and chief executive officer. “The global COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for broadband to keep rural communities connected so that everyone can have the opportunity to learn and work remotely no matter where they live.”

Mainstream Fiber Networks is also partnering on a similar program in Posey County, which also received funding from the Next Level Connections program.

MARENGO, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The lone public school system in Crawford County will now offer telehealth services for its over 1,500 students. The county’s five schools serve the largest geographical footprint of any public school system in the state, which posed a problem not faced by many other school systems in Indiana.

The Rural School Clinic Network was able to find a mobile solution to the problem with a plan allowing three sites to host the diagnostic equipment, which is portable to allow for movement as needed. All the clinics are served by medical professionals from Harrison County Hospital in Corydon. 

“Through these state-of-the-art clinics, rural students throughout Crawford County will have access to an Indiana licensed physician or provider from a hospital who will use high-tech and high-resolution diagnostic technology – such as an electronic otoscope or digital stethoscope – to digitally view ears, eyes and throat as needed during a student’s visit,” said Kathleen Chelminiak, project director.

A grant from the Indiana Rural Health Association funds the program, which allows secure technology to connect school nurses with medical providers for real-time high-resolution images and diagnostic capabilities. 

CRAWFORD COUNTY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The Patoka Hills area of Crawford County now features the state’s newest nature preserve. The Natural Resources Commission approved the creation of the Patoka Hills Nature Preserve at its Jan. 21 meeting. The new preserve brings the number of state-designated sites protected by the Nature Preserves Act to 290. 

The nearly 27-acre preserve holds one of the state’s best paleontological sites and is mostly upland forest, with limestone outcrops and a cave. The Indiana State Museum has been excavating the cave since 1987, allowing scientists to study Indiana’s past climate, plants and animals during the end stages of the ice age. 

Some rare findings in the cave have been a springtail insect and a cave millipede, with both lacking eyes and color, both rare worldwide. The new preserve is owned and managed by the Division of State Parks. 

(Video above of Lauren Robel, IU Bloomington provost and executive vice president, and Bill Brown, the executive director of the Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement, provided by IU)

WEST BADEN, Ind. (WISH) — The Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment has approved a $10 million grant for the Indiana University Foundation to fund the Center for Rural Engagement.

An IU news release said the grant, $2.5 million of which is subject to matching conditions, will help the center support regional initiatives to address community-identified opportunities and needs in 11 neighboring counties: Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen and Washington counties.

“The Center for Rural Engagement’s focus and vision developed from discussions with local residents and community leaders, as well as with leaders of regional organizations, through a series of meetings and open sessions,” the release said. “More than 200 IU faculty, administrators and staff have participated in project development and engagement activities during the planning period.”

IU said the center will support and enhance ongoing work by IU Bloomington faculty, staff and students on rural issues, using a mix of approaches from faculty-led classes to multidisciplinary research projects.

In Lawrence County, projects have worked to address addiction issues, street and highway infrastructure, and a new use for the decommissioned Avoca Fish Hatchery

Bill Brown, former university director of sustainability and Sustaining Hoosier Communities lead, will serve as the executive director of the center.

Monday’s announcement was made at the historic West Baden Springs Hotel.

CROZET, Vir. (WISH) — An Indiana lawmaker is being hailed a hero after a train carrying members of Congress and their families crashed into a garbage truck.

The crash happened late Wednesday morning about 15 miles outside of Charlottesville, Virginia in Crozet. The train was carrying dozens of Republican members of Congress, including several from Indiana, to their legislative retreat in West Virginia. The driver of the truck was killed. Six patients were transported to UVA Medical Center, with one in critical condition. All members of Congress on the train and their families were said to be OK, with the exception of a few minor injuries.

Indiana representatives Susan Brooks and Jim Banks, as well as Senator Todd Young were on board the train.

Congressman Larry Bucshon is a heart surgeon. He was also on board with his wife who is an anesthesiologist. Both stepped up with several others to help after the crash.

“We again came to a very distressing scene with obviously very severely injured people and the atmosphere was as professional as that setting could allow and I do think it made a difference, I think what the people on this stage did hopefully has saved a life,” Rep. Larry Bucshon said.

Rep Bucshon also offered prayers to the those involved in the crash and said he hopes it will refocus lawmakers in Washington.

“This does bring back thoughts of family and friends in a partisan Washington D.C. climate. Sometimes, I think some of us start to lose what really is important in life and this incident today really brings that back in focus for everyone,” Rep. Bucshon said.

As for the retreat, GOP lawmakers say it is going on as planned. It’s happening in West Virginia through Friday. President Trump is scheduled to speak to the group Thursday.

CRAWFORD COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — Authorities are investigating after a man died following an ATV accident Tuesday evening.

It happened on Ross Road at 8:30 p.m. when 34-year-old Clinton Neal is said to have flipped his ATV after losing control.

Neal hit a tree after he was ejected without a helmet.

Alcohol and excessive speed are believed to be factors in the crash.

The incident remains under investigation.

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