Teri Ooms, the executive director of the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development at Wilkes University, will receive the Innovator of the Year Award at the Extraordinary People Inspiring Community (EPIC) Awards. The awards are given by the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce. Sponsored by Wells Fargo, the EPIC Awards will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Tues., June 7, 2016 at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, Public Square, Wilkes-Barre.
Ooms was appointed executive director of the newly formed Joint Urban Studies Center in 2004. In 2008, the center became The Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development. The Institute is a think tank established to provide essential research, analysis, and consultation to entities looking for revitalization and long-term sustainability. The principal purpose of the institute is to increase the capacity of organizations to solve their own problems and become thriving entities. Under Ooms’ direction, the Institute has completed more than 100 client and community based studies which have resulted in new jobs, new programs, sustained initiatives, and new legislation throughout Pennsylvania and in New York.
Recently, Ooms worked closely with the team that launched the Wilkes-Barre Connect initiative, The purpose of the program is to foster the entrepreneurial spirit in the region and increase business and job creation, retention, expansion, and attraction. The initiative is a program of the Chamber. Partners include the Wilkes University SBDC, Family Business Alliance at Wilkes University, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise & Entrepreneurship, Diamond City Partnership (DCP), Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development; and the Chamber.
Wico van Genderen, chief executive officer for the chamber, lauded Ooms’ work, saying, “Innovation is one part a passionate idea and one part science. Teri Ooms embodies both. Her work at the Institute is data-driven and adheres to lean principles and infrastructure. At the same time she is naturally curious and entrepreneurial. Her ability to create a data-driven innovation environment that breeds and builds innovation momentum makes Teri the ideal recipient of the Innovator of the Year Award.”