John McDonald, CEO of ClearObject, talks to attendees of the Radius Indiana Stakeholders Meeting Wednesday at the French Lick Resort. McDonald explained businesses must be prepared for what’s next in terms of technology. (Krystal Shetler / Times-Mail)
John McDonald, CEO of ClearObject, talks to attendees of the Radius Indiana Stakeholders Meeting Wednesday at the French Lick Resort. McDonald explained businesses must be prepared for what’s next in terms of technology. (Krystal Shetler / Times-Mail)
FRENCH LICK — After a decade of pushing economic development in Indiana, Radius Indiana took some time Wednesday to celebrate some of the accomplishments that have taken place in its eight-county region.

Radius Indiana is a regional economic development partnership representing eight counties in southern Indiana: Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Orange and Washington.

Formed in 2009, Radius Indiana also serves as a point of contact in Indiana for Naval Support Activity Crane and leads regional collaboration by leveraging the diverse assets of the region to drive attraction, retention and expansion of business, thereby increasing employment and investment opportunities and quality of life within the region.

Former Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, who chairs the Radius board and was the organization’s first president and CEO, offered statistics showing how earnings, education and development have grown throughout the region over the past 10 years.

“Thank you for supporting the Radius mission,” she told attendees.

Jeff Quyle, current Radius president and CEO, touted some of the more important developments that have taken place in southern Indiana over the past 10 years, ranging from progress around NSWC-Crane to the Stellar Communities designation in Bedford. The list included:

Purdue at WestGate. The opening of the WestGate Academy, growth at WestGate @ Crane Technology Park as well as the news that Purdue University would be joining forces for the Purdue at WestGate initiative all heralded significant educational opportunities surrounding NSCW-Crane.

• The creation of the Battery Innovation Center (and BrightVolt) and East Gate Business and Technology Center in Bedford supported technological advances as well as Department of Defense contracts.

• The announcement that Becky Skillman, who was lieutenant governor under former Gov. Mitch Daniels, would be leading Radius Indiana. Skillman helped guide the organization from its infancy.

• The Vincennes University Center of Technology, Innovation and Manufacturing as well as the creation of the one-of-a-kind Regional Impact Fund helped grow economic development efforts in the area.

• The continued growth and expansion of the French Lick Resort made it the largest private convention center in the state.

• The state named both Bedford and Huntingburg as recipients of its Stellar Communities grant program. In addition, the cities of Bedford and Jasper were both named Communities of the Year. “We may never again be called the best kept secret because the word is getting out,” Quyle said.

• The opening of Interstate 69 from Evansville to Bloomington helped logistics, transportation and spurred development in Washington, which capitalized on the fact that the interstate would run right through it. Washington, too, was considered a success story because of how it prepared for the development, capturing several new industries.

• Business growth throughout the region including investments at General Motors, Kimball Corp., Farbest Foods and the $600 million new manufacturing facility for Lehigh Cement Co.

Quyle also mentioned the $42 million Lilly Endowment grant and the creation of Regional Opportunity Initiatives. He said, “It’s enabling our communities to stretch their limits.”

Radius also is developing a new strategic plan that will address talent attraction and retention, entrepreneurship and small business growth, regional economic leadership and education, Crane community outreach and support to the regional defense industry, tourism development and regional marketing.

“Our region has gone through tough times and good times,” Quyle said. “... But we’ve always stayed resilient.”

‘The Internet of Everything’

The featured speaker for the event was John McDonald, CEO of ClearObject, which is Indiana’s leading Internet of Things systems integrator. Internet of Things refers to the network of devices, such as vehicles and home appliances, which contain electronics, software, sensors, actuators and connectivity to allow them to connect, interact and exchange.

McDonald talked about how industries need to be prepared for the next wave of technology.

For example, he said, Ford is expected to have fully autonomous vehicles in operation in 2021. UPS, he said, is already exploring drone delivery options, and he expects hospitals to be a thing of the past as services come to the patient instead of the patient going to hospitals.

“You’re only getting a small glimpse about what is going to happen in this world,” he said.

He went on to explain the biggest broadcasting company in the world is Netflix, but it doesn’t own a single station. The biggest lodging company is Airbnb, but it doesn’t own a single hotel.

“They’re selling data,” McDonald said.

He said the fourth economy is just on the horizon, explaining the first was agriculture, the second was manufacturing, and the third was transportation, logistics and retail distribution. The fourth will be “smart things,” McDonald said.

“The internet of people is ending,” he said. “The fourth computing wave is beginning. ... We must teach computers to learn the way humans do, and that’s happening. ... We’ve got to be ready for it.”

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