The Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) at Ball State University was established in 1970 as the Bureau of Business Research (BBR). Its first director, Joseph Brown, was hired by College of Business Dean Robert Bell with the task of finding research opportunities for college faculty and provide resources to assist them in their research.

By the mid-1970s, the full-time staff included a director, editor, and research analyst. Publications produced in-house included the Ball State Business Review, a business-focused academic journal for the college. In 1985, the publication was replaced by the much larger Mid-American Journal of Business, a business-focused academic journal supported by a consortium of business schools. The journal, now known as the American Journal of Business, was produced in-house by the BBR publications team for 25 years before being transferred to an international publisher in 2010.

John Carter joined the BBR as director in 1985. Carter's background in banking and business economics gave a strong foundation to the bureau's growing role as a disseminator of statistical information.  His "data bank" regional economic information was circulated through in-state newspapers to an audience of thousands.

In 1993, Patrick Barkey joined the bureau. As director, Barkey developed the forecasting arm of the bureau, creating the Ball State University Business Forecasting Roundtable for the east central Indiana region and the annual Indiana Economic Outlook luncheon each December.

Michael Hicks joined the bureau in 2007. Under his leadership, the bureau shifted its focus and changed its name to the Center for Business and Economic Research in October 2009. The center increased its offerings to the general public through the creation of the CBER Data Center website, which provides free, data-rich web tools at The annual Indiana Economic Outlook has expanded into a multicity forecasting tour with localized forecasts for several regions in the state. 

CBER has become a well-known provider of high-quality public policy research and economic analysis to state agencies and is frequently cited in the media. The center has been honored by peer organizations for its excellence in research/analysis and publications design.