The Bureau of Business Research

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 managed and produced in-house by the BBR publications team for 23 years before being transferred to an international publisher.

Bureau Growth

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” of regional economic information was circulated through in-state newspapers to an audience of thousands.

Two years later, Judy Lane joined the staff of the Mid-American Journal of Business. She became managing editor in 1992 and guided the journal’s development as it expanded online and grew to become the American Journal of Business. Lane oversaw the publication of 325 peer-reviewed articles and worked with more than 50 board members in her 23 years of unparalleled service.

As BBR’s associate director and editor, Lane provided invaluable support and guidance to her colleagues and to the faculty of the Miller College of Business, who often stopped by her office for professional wisdom. Lane retired in 2010.

Focus on Forecasting

In 1993, Patrick Barkey came to the bureau. As director, Barkey developed the forecasting arm of BBR, creating the Ball State University Business Forecasting Roundtable for business and industry experts in East Central Indiana, the Executive Economic Exchange for the Indianapolis area business community, and the annual Indiana Economic Outlook luncheon each December. Gary Santoni, a professor of economics emeritus in the Miller College of Business, became a valued friend of BBR and an active member of the Roundtable. His passion for forecasting led him to develop his own forecasts for the national and local economy, which he presented regularly at meetings, even beyond his retirement. His last forecast was shared in 2010, but he continues to attend the Indiana Economic Outlook to catch the latest forecast from our office.

Digital Access and Public Policy

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 2008. The center increased its offerings to the general public through the development of the CBER Data Center website, which provides a suite of free, data-rich web tools at The annual Indiana Economic Outlook has expanded in popularity and features a keynote presentation by a high-level authority in business or public policy.

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.