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WESTVILLE, HAMMOND, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A new economic impact study commissioned by Purdue University Northwest reveals the school adds nearly $750 million in total income annually in the region and supports more than 10,000 direct jobs. The study also shows one out of every 36 jobs in northwest Indiana is connected to a PNW degree. The institution, which consists of campuses in Westville and Hammond, says the study examined the economic impact of the school’s spending on major industries in the region.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, PNW Chancellor Thomas Keon said there is a definite return on the education investment.

“We hear so many negative things about the cost of going to college, to getting a degree at a university. This study showed that the cost benefit ratio is four times greater than the initial cost of the degree and shows for 14.9% return on investment,” said Keon.

The study, based on data from the 2019-2020 academic year, is based on job creation, salaries, and increased business productivity, among other factors

PNW says the impact accounts for two percent of gross regional product, including the accomplishments of students and alumni, research conducted, and start-ups launched as a result of PNW’s educational and engagement activities.

“Every dollar spent by students on a PNW education increases their lifetime earnings fourfold,” said Keon. “From a taxpayer perspective, every $1 invested at PNW returns $1.70 to the local economy, for a total value of $89.7 million in future tax revenue and government savings.”

Keon says the study also found the average bachelor’s degree graduate from PNW will see an increase in earnings of $22,200 each year compared to someone with a high school diploma.

“The results of this study further confirm PNW’s role as a premier metropolitan university, transforming students’ lives and our region at the most significant rate among all local public universities,” said Keon.

The study was conducted by Emsi Burning Glass, a labor market analytics firm based in Idaho. It conducted a similar study for Ivy Tech Community College in which the results were released in September.

Click here to view the economic study.

WESTVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The town of Westville is marking the beginning of what it is calling a significant redevelopment project. The Hero Pet Animal Hospital project, which will initially create 10 jobs in the LaPorte County community, is the first to receive an Economic Revitalization Area designation in the town’s history.

The animal hospital received the ERA designation in September. The 5,400-square-foot facility will include five exam rooms and offer medical, surgical, dental and wellness services for dogs and cats.

“We have spent more than two years, including COVID related delays, working on the site selection, engineering, design of the building and working closely with the LaPorte County Office of Community and Economic Development to secure the Town of Westville’s first-ever Economic Revitalization Area Designation, all amidst the COVID -19 pandemic,” said Dr. Lisa Booth, co-founder of Hero Pet. “Beginning construction on our new building is a great milestone for Hero Pet.”

The financial terms of the project were not immediately disclosed. The new animal hospital is expected to open in the spring.

HAMMOND AND WESTVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – The National Security Agency has awarded a nearly $6 million Cybersecurity Workforce Development grant to the College of Technology at Purdue University Northwest (PNW). The two-year grant will allow the university to collaborate with other higher education institutions to develop artificial intelligence and cybersecurity certification-based national training program for more than 425 transitioning military, first responders and other adult trainees.

The university is a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education designated jointly by the NSA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. PNW says the training program will be offered online and free of charge to the trainees.

“Receiving this highly competitive grant award of cybersecurity workforce development is a strong indication of cybersecurity education at PNW and expertise of our computer information technology faculty. This award will help fill the gap of shortage of cybersecurity workforce in this country,” said Keyuan Jiang, professor and chair of the department of computer information technology and graphics.

PNW will collaborate with Ivy Tech Community College, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

During the first year of the grant, PNW says the coalition will develop an artificial intelligence-cybersecurity curriculum that contains 12 courses divided into three tracks. Topics include Windows and Linux computer technologies, cloud technology and python programming, among others.

The training curriculum is expected to be mapped to existing courses in the cybersecurity programs at each participating institution. The university says this will allow pathways to be created for trainees to pursue degree programs at PNW and other participating institutions.

“As a Center of Academic Excellence, our bachelor of science degree in Computer Information Technology and its Cybersecurity concentration is recognized as one of the best cybersecurity programs in the nation,” said PNW professor of Computer Information Technology and director of the Center for Cybersecurity Michael Tu. “We are looking forward to introducing highly capable professionals into the workforce to assist with cyber infrastructure on a nationwide level.”

During the second year of the grant, the three training tracks with 12 courses will be offered online to trainees who were recruited in year 1 and year 2 and each of them is expected to take six courses. Trainees are expected to take certification exams and to earn industry and government recognized certifications.

WESTVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Purdue University Northwest is adding electronic sports to its list of varsity athletic offerings, launching the program in the fall of 2020. Esports is among the fastest-growing competitions at the collegiate level.

“I am excited to launch Esports at PNW,” said Director of Athletics Rick Costello. “The growth of Esports is amazing and this sport provides competitive, social engagement and educational opportunities for our students, faculty, staff, alumni and the northwest Indiana community.”

As a member of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and NCAA Division II, the PNW Pride will compete against fellow GLIAC members Ashland University, Davenport University and Michigan Technological University.

The school says arenas will be developed in the student union buildings on both the Hammond and Westville campuses.

More than just an extracurricular event, PNW says esports can lead to a career path.

“Esports is a billion-dollar business and can enhance many career opportunities for our students – including management, marketing, game design and production, broadcasting and event management and health care,” said PNW Chancellor Thomas L. Keon.

The PNW Esports team will be developed as a co-ed sport. PNW says the teams will compete using games, such as Fortnite, Hearthstone, League of Legends and Overwatch.

HAMMOND AND WESTVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Purdue University Northwest’s College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences is embarking on a new partnership with a university in Vietnam.  The university says the collaboration will focus on the development of mutually-beneficial programs as well as a student exchange program. 

The agreement gained traction at International Conference on Innovations in the Social Sciences and Humanities at Ton Duc Thang University in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam earlier this month.

George Kacenga, executive director of Global Engagement for PNW, said the agreement lays the groundwork for future collaborations by the universities. “The opportunity for PNW students to study abroad builds the global mindset capacity sought after by employers in Northwest Indiana.”

Officials say collaborative research, a global mindset and greater study abroad opportunities are all benefits students will reap from the new partnership.