Professor: USDA Selection Would Bring Benefits to Indiana

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Bill Blomquist is a professor of political science at IUPUI (photo courtesy of IUPUI) Bill Blomquist is a professor of political science at IUPUI (photo courtesy of IUPUI)

A professor of political science at IUPUI says Indiana would be a great landing spot for two agencies within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The department has named Indiana one of three finalists to serve as the home for its Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Bill Blomquist says having the agencies in Indiana would raise the level and the quality of research and education in agriculture in the state, in addition to economic and environmental impacts.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Blomquist said having one of the largest federal departments locate one or both of the agencies in Indiana would create a big impact.

"Not only would that bring the staff who work in those centers to Indiana, but there could be some spin-off benefits in terms of collaboration with researchers at Purdue University and maybe even other higher ed institutions," said Blomquist. "There could be internship and other opportunities for graduate students and post-doctorate researchers either in Indiana or to locate in Indiana to be with the Economic Research Service or the NIFA."

Blomquist says if Indiana was selected to be the new home for the agencies, it could also have a positive effect on economic development in the state, particularly in the agriculture and ag tech sectors.

"Mainly what you want to see, I think from an economic development standpoint, is the kind of synergy that comes from continuing to grow activity and professionals around these topics," Blomquist said. "So the fact that there would be this many more individuals employed in that sector in Indiana, as well as the fact that they are in federal agencies, should be attractive to other folks in the sector, private sector companies in this field who would be considering Indiana as a place to locate."

The USDA is also considering the Greater Kansas City Region in Kansas and Missouri and the Research Triangle Region in North Carolina as finalists. St. Louis and Madison, Wisconsin are listed as alternative locations. The department did not give a time frame for making its selection.

Blomquist says Indiana's central location in the country, along with the high agriculture research profile of Purdue will give Indiana an advantage in the process. 

Blomquist said having one of the largest federal departments locate one or both of the agencies in Indiana would create a big impact.
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