HOBART | An evening of out-of-the-box thinking among local leaders took place Thursday at Avalon Manor with Idea Ingine Ivent 2013, a presentation hosted by the Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana, as part of Ivy Tech Northwest’s Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center.
O’Merrial Butchee, director of the center, said Ingine Ivent is a home-grown strategy to turn on each other’s collective light bulbs to spur more creativity and innovation.
“It’s a sort of power source to plug in our brains and come up with great ideas to turn on the big light for more growth and prosperity in Northwest Indiana,” she said. “There’s a lot of innovation, but we need more of it.”
John Davies, Society of Innovators managing director, said the organized approach to innovation is, to their knowledge, the only one in the U.S. sponsored by a community college.
The “ivent” featured a panel of six local business leaders who discussed innovation and the process of generating fresh ideas in their industries of agriculture, health care, food service and steel.
Denise Dillard, vice president and chief consultant of governmental and external affairs at Methodist Hospitals, discussed innovation in health care. Examples Dillard used were recent projects at Methodist that were creative and inviting, yet didn’t divert from keeping its mission patient-centered.
Another panelist, Raymundo Garcia, is not only known for his El Taco Real restaurant in Hammond but is referred to as “The Urban Pioneer.” Garcia has purchased down-trodden, abandoned buildings in downtown Hammond and turned them into useful resources.
A few years ago Garcia brought another blighted building, a 30,000-square-foot structure in downtown Hammond that, in a couple of years, will become an American bistro restaurant with a stage for artistic endeavors.
“All of it intended to bring all of you folks back to the old part of town,” he said.
Panelists included Eric Diamond, co-director of operations, Green Farms Agronomics & Mycology; Stewart McMillan, president, Task Force Tips; Alex Olympidis, director of operations, Family Express; and Dr. Blake Zuidema, of ArcelorMittal Global Research and Development.