Indiana Business Research Center celebrates 90 years of serving the Hoosier state

  • Aug. 31, 2015

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Back in 1925, before there was a Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, a group of faculty members decided to follow a trend to offer new research services to benefit the Hoosier state.

This week the Kelley School is celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Bureau of Business Research, what today is better known as the Indiana Business Research Center.

According to the October 1925 issue of the IU Alumni Quarterly (today the IU Alumni magazine), the bureau’s general purpose was “to carry on work in research that will be of special value to the business men of the state.”

Today, the Indiana Business Research Center continues to provide economic information needed by many Indiana businesses, governmental units and nonprofit organizations.

The state’s oldest economic research center and its staff of about 40 people produce several reports each year about Indiana’s commercial activity and publish two research-based periodicals. Hundreds of Hoosiers attend its Business Outlook forecast presentations around the state each November.

On Thursday, Sept. 3, current and former IBRC academics, researchers and demographers and its public and private sector stakeholders will gather in Indianapolis to celebrate nine decades of service.

“The Kelley School is proud to have the IBRC as one of our centers," said Idalene “Idie” Kesner, dean of the Kelley School and the Frank P. Popoff Chair of Strategic Management. "It is a trusted and valuable source of information and research, including benchmark, impact and efficiency studies. Its work is top-notch and strengthens the relationship between Indiana University and the state.”

Tom Guevara, deputy assistant secretary for regional affairs at the U.S. Economic Development Administration, will offer remarks at a reception for invited guests from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday in the lobby of Hine Hall, on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Also speaking will be Kesner and Phil Cochran, executive associate dean of the Kelley School at Indianapolis, where the IBRC also has offices.

“Though there have been many changes over 90 years in our name, the economic and business climate and technology, the Indiana Business Research Center’s mission remains intact,” said Jerry Conover, the IBRC’s director since July 2003.

“Our focus on providing timely, reliable data and analysis, disseminating it engagingly, has helped numerous businesses, nonprofit and government agencies, foundations and community organizations around the state and across the nation,” Conover added.

In the fall of 1925, the School of Commerce and Finance was based in the building today known as Rawles Hall (named for the school’s dean at that time, William A. Rawles). Professor Lionel D. Edie, who went on to become a pioneer in the area of business economics and had a successful Wall Street career, was the Bureau of Business Research’s first director.

The following spring, publication began of the Indiana Business Review, which continues to be published online.

“The IBR’s national significance is that it was the first publication devoted solely to a review of business conditions in a single state,” Brian K. Burton wrote in a 60th anniversary article about the IBRC in 1985. Burton earned his MBA and doctorate at the IU School of Business, now the Kelley School, and is associate vice president for academic affairs at Western Washington University.

Throughout its history, the Indiana Business Research Center has had just seven directors, including two people who went on to lead the Kelley School as dean: the late Schuyler Otteson (1971-1982) and Jack Wentworth (1984-1993).

As director, Otteson founded the Kelley School’s scholarly journal, Business Horizons, and edited a 14-volume study for Gov. George Craig that influenced Indiana’s economic policy for many years.

In late 1970, the Bureau of Business Research became the business school’s Division of Research and over the next several years developed data tools that offered greater public access to statistics on population, housing, labor force, income and taxation and on Indiana’s counties, cities, towns and metropolitan areas.

In the late 1970s, the bureau created the Center for Econometric Model Research, which continues to produce state and national economic forecasts used by businesses and government agencies.

In 1985, the bureau evolved into the Indiana Business Research Center and soon began another publication, InContext, featuring articles about Indiana's workforce and economy for a more general audience.

Also in 1985, the IBRC developed STATS Indiana, a statistical data utility for the state of Indiana, with additional support from Lilly Endowment, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and IU. Much of the direction for these activities came from Morton J. Marcus, who directed the IBRC for 18 years, retiring in 2003. He continues as an active participant in state affairs today.

More recently, the center launched STATS America, a similar site supported by the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

Highlighting the IBRC’s relationships with stakeholders throughout Indiana and beyond, Conover noted that such partnerships are a strong testament to the value of the center’s research.

“Our passion to find and share useful insights drives us to help business and community leaders make well-informed decisions, and to engage and inform the public,” he said.

Related Links

Jerry Conover

IBRC Director Jerry Conover

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IBRC crew with Gov. Evan Bayh

Over 90 years, the IBRC has served about 20 gubernatorial administrations, including Gov. Evan Bayh, pictured here with the IBRC staff during his tenure from 1989-97.

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Front page of Indiana Business Review on March 10, 1926

Front page of Indiana Business Review on March 10, 1926

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Media Contacts

George Vlahakis

  • IU Communications
  • Office 812-855-0846
  • Cell 812-345-1500
  • IU Inc.

Jerry Conover


  • Indiana Business Research Center
  • Office 812-855-7476