Ohio Northern University President Daniel DiBiasio said the university wants to continue to partner with Hardin County to help it grow and prosper.
“We can sense and feel the momentum in our county and we feel a partner in that,” he told the some 170 people Thursday at the Christmas Luncheon of the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance, held at the Hardin County Armory in Kenton. "We are grateful there are so many ways we are able to work in partnership with the community,” DiBiasio said.
Part of the partnership involves the county helping ONU.
The county commissioners and the Kenton CIC enabled the university to refinance $65 million of bond debt which saved ONU nearly $4 million, DiBiasio said.
He said the new dean of the College of Pharmacy, Steve Martin, is seeking to revive collaborations with the Kenton-Hardin Health Department and Hardin Memorial Hospital to better serve the health needs of the community. DiBiasio also noted that his wife, Chris, who leads community relations at the university, works collaboratively as a member of the Alliance board.
“We want to know how many other ways ONU and the community can partner together to make resources available to Kenton and Hardin County,” he said.
DiBiasio told the gathering “Christmas came early” at ONU this year with the announcement that the College of Engineering has been awarded a $1.2 million grant from the Kern Foundation in Waukesha, Wis. It will help ONU’s mechanical engineering students to apply the entrepreneurial mindset in their studies.
ONU also received news it has been named a College of Distinction in a recent college guidebook. DiBiasio said only 10 universities in Ohio and 400 nationwide received the honor, which recognizes efforts to engage students with a committed faculty, leading to successful outcomes. He also noted ONU’s success in the class of 2014 placement survey. He said 95 percent of the students are either employed or in an advanced education program.
DiBiasio said the ONU Holiday Spectacular just completed its 20th year, during which it has been seen by some 135,000 people through its performances at the university and in Lima.
He also announced that on July 4, 2015, ONU will be hosting the Lima Symphony Orchestra at the Ada campus and invited area residents to attend.
DiBiasio’s comments followed an upbeat assessment of the county’s economic outlook by Jon Cross, president and CEO of the Alliance.
“We’re chasing deals,” said Cross, citing interest in the retail, restaurant and manufacturing sectors. “Hardin County is the new hot spot of NW Ohio,” he said.