New NIDIA chair to continue plan for growth
The Northeast Indiana Defense Industry Association elected Joe Peters to succeed David Augustine as chairman of the regional defense business advocacy group.
Peters is president of Columbia City-based Ultra Electronics USSI. Augustine is senior vice president of business development for Stryke Industries and former commander of the 122nd Fighter Wing at the Fort Wayne Air National Guard base.
“I’ve truly enjoyed the past two years as the chairman of NIDIA. With the great support of our membership, board, universities and local sponsors, NIDIA has had the time to re-establish its game and create a plan to start growing defense related business once again. It’s been an honor to serve this great organization – I’m excited for Joe as our new leader,” Augustine said in a statement.
During his term as chair, the association automated its processes and launched a “Why Northeast Indiana for Defense” campaign to market the region to the defense industry.
Part of the campaign promotes findings of a Purdue University study comparing northeast Indiana with other good defense business locations.
The study shows the region has the kind of critical mass with the industry that defense employers like to find where they work, by highlighting the $2.8 billion in defense awards that have come to northeast Indiana since 2005.
It lists some of the better-known defense contractors operating in the region, such as BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Harris Corp., Raytheon Co. and Ultra Electronics USSI.
It showed that, compared with other cities, Fort Wayne outperformed or “did well” in the following metrics: business climate, supply chain infrastructure, logistics, talent, livability and employee purchasing power.
A graphic in the report depicted northeast Indiana as the epicenter of engineering excellence, surrounded by top engineering-focused laboratories and educational institutions in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois.
The graphic states northeast Indiana has created five New Tech High Schools since 2010, and has the highest concentration in the country focused on science, technology, engineering and math.
A Center of Excellence in Systems Engineering at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne is unique in the state and among only a few in the nation, with a defense focus that contributes to the success of regional defense contractors.
Peters considers the regional promotion NIDIA started with the campaign a path for growth.
“Our job now is to execute the plan and grow defense jobs as part of our regional development,” he said in the association’s statement on its leadership transition. “NIDIA takes great pride in giving the warfighter only the best tools possible by a highly competent and committed workforce of defense professionals.”