Strength in Strategy

When technology company Continental was looking to expand its operations in DeKalb county, the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership’s Northeast Indiana Colleges and Universities Network helped to put the puzzle pieces together.
Aug 6, 2021
Jennifer Blomquist
Tim Brumbeloe & provided
Strength in Strategy

Scott Bykowski, Head of Research and Development for vibration control technology and noise insulation R & D North America ContiTech AVS Segment for Continental, recently took on a major challenge to consolidate three technical centers into one location in Auburn, Indiana.

“On April 1, 2019, Continental purchased Cooper Standard Automotive’s Anti-Vibration Systems Segment from the Cooper Standard Organization,” says Bykowski. “With the acquisition, we acquired additional facilities in the North American region and other plants around the world. The team evaluated proposals to consolidate tech centers in Auburn Hills, Michigan; Mitchell, Ontario; and Auburn, Indiana. It was an arduous process which required a tremendous amount of work by the core team. We had to undergo extensive internal committee reviews at Continental and worked with the state and local governments to get the best proposal in order to make the right business decisions. Continental had the physical properties with the acquisition, but lacked the essential resources to get everything functioning efficiently.”

That’s where Anton King, Executive Director for the DeKalb County Economic Development Partnership, stepped into the picture.

“We want to be able to provide assistance and assurance and really just serve as a resource to those companies as we bring them in,” says King. “We want to eliminate or lessen the barrier of entry and with that, as talent is a crucial piece of the puzzle, being able to have a network like the Northeast Indiana Colleges and Universities Network to fulfill that need.”

King put Bykowski in touch with the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, an 11-county economic development agency in Fort Wayne. The Regional Partnership works with local economic developers like King in DeKalb by attracting business investment into northeast Indiana. While King and Bykowski worked closely together to bring this project to DeKalb, the Regional Partnership connected them with Colleges and Universities Network to help showcase the robust talent pipeline available in the region’s 11 counties. 

Doctor Jeffrey Malanson is director of strategic planning and the office of academic innovation at Purdue Fort Wayne and serves as chair of the Northeast Indiana Colleges and Universities Network. He says the education sector, working in conjunction with the Regional Partnership, is critically important for both the students and the workforce.

“Beyond preparing a highly educated workforce, the network also provides training and professional development opportunities to existing employees to help them perform better in their current roles as well as programs and credentials that can help them take the next step in their careers. Each of our institutions wants to be a key partner with regional industry to help them attract and retain talented employees. Internships are a great example. Opportunities where students can apply their academic learning in real-world contexts are among the most valuable learning experiences students can have,” says Dr. Malanson.

“I whole-heartedly agree,” says Bykowski “I actually grew up in the co-op experience myself and I understand how valuable it is. We have a summer intern this year and we are looking to vastly expand that program. We are looking forward to continuing to grow our relationship with both Anton and Jeff in the future. This is just the beginning of our journey.” 

Northeast Indiana Colleges and Universities Network

Owner(s): 200 E. Main St., Suite 910

General Manager: Fort Wayne, Indiana 46802

Phone: (260) 469-3469

Website: NEIndiana.com/network

Products & Services: The Northeast Indiana Colleges and Universities Network is a collaborative effort among 10 unaffiliated higher education institutions convened by the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. The unique consortium is designed to ensure that employers considering a relocation or expansion in Northeast Indiana have access to the talent they need.

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