By BRAD BISHOP
Executive Director, OrthoWorx
OrthoWorx, Warsaw, recently marked its fifth anniversary with a showcase for volunteers and funders of its achievements.
OrthoWorx and the Orthopedics Capital Foundation were created in September 2009 with an initial grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. to the Kosciusko County Community Foundation. The purpose of the grant was to fund OrthoWorx’s charitable and educational initiatives to secure and advance the region’s position as the Orthopedic Capital of the World.
OrthoWorx works in conjunction with community, industry and academic partners to help the Warsaw community and surrounding region take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the unusually high concentration of orthopedic device manufacturers in the area.
An economic impact study conducted by the Indiana Business Research Center found that the orthopedic industry accounts for more than 40 percent of all employment in Kosciusko County, including approximately 6,800 people directly employed by orthopedic companies.
“It has been our privilege to work with our members and community stakeholders to advance an industry that provides great economic opportunity for the citizens of the region and also provides life-changing health benefits to patients around the world,” said Sheryl Conley, OrthoWorx president and CEO. “We are especially grateful for the generosity of Lilly Endowment, whose vision for advancing Indiana supported the creation of OrthoWorx. We also are thankful for the financial support of our members and the high level of involvement they have shown in our initiative work.”
“The availability of careers that reward educational attainment and enterprise is vital to the long-term health of Indiana communities,” said Ace Yakey, vice president of community development for Lilly Endowment Inc. “The OrthoWorx initiative is an important example of what can happen when those in industry, education and the community as a whole work together.”
Education and workforce development programs have been a cornerstone for OrthoWorx.
Achievements have included the development of an elementary STEM academy; support for the Warsaw Inquiry Learning Mobile Laboratory, which serves all elementary schools in the district; the development of financial support for the implementation of the Project Lead The Way STEM curriculum in county schools; college graduate programs in regulatory/clinical affairs and medical device quality management; and an orthopedic manufacturing certificate program to build a skilled workforce.
In addition, OrthoWorx has established a University/Industry Advisory Board to align orthopedic industry interests and needs with the vast academic and research capabilities represented by the state’s colleges and universities. Nine Indiana colleges and universities are members of OrthoWorx, and councils have been formed to develop collaborations to close the historic gap between the orthopedic industry and the state’s academic resources.
“Those of us from industry value the initiatives put forward by OrthoWorx to create the best possible environment for retaining our status as the world capital of orthopedics,” said Jon Serbousek, president of Biomet Biologics and OrthoWorx board chairman. “As community members, we have seen the improvements in education and talent development and other areas that are critical to sustaining and enhancing the region’s economic and social well-being.”
OrthoWorx has collaborated on several projects designed to enhance the region’s quality of life. They include the Krebs Trailhead and bicycle-pedestrian master plan, and the Wagon Wheel Theatre youth program. It has also led and facilitated several programs designed to drive innovation and entrepreneurship to support and expand the region’s orthopedic cluster, including the ongoing development of the Orthopedic Capital Research Network and the Medical Device Incubator/Accelerator concepts.
“Quality of life is increasingly important to a community’s health,” said Suzanne Light, executive director of the Kosciusko County Community Foundation. “We are so fortunate as a community to have the support of Lilly Endowment, which made the creation of OrthoWorx possible. The initiative has supported many outstanding efforts that assure our region is a place where people are excited to make their lives and their careers.”
In recognition of the efforts and investments made by OrthoWorx and the Orthopedics Capital Foundation, Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer declared Sept. 29, 2014, as “Orthopedic Capital of the World Day,” in recognition of the industry’s historic presence in the community and the initiatives being undertaken by OrthoWorx to assure the region’s vitality in coming decades.