COLUMBUS, Ind. -- Public officials and business leaders from across southern Indiana have been invited to attend a forum on a state economic development campaign to promote the life sciences industry.\nThe office of U.S. Rep. Baron Hill, D-Ind., has invited hundreds of mayors, county commissioners and other officials to the Feb. 20 forum to discuss the potential for job growth in fields such as pharmaceuticals, genetics, nanotechnology, medical devices and agricultural chemicals. Another forum on the same topic will be held in Sellersburg.\nSpeakers from Eli Lilly and Co., IU, Indiana Health Industry Forum and others groups will speak at the presentations.\nHundreds of people have been invited to the Columbus event.\n"If we had 100 people that would be a smashing success," said Stefan Bailey, a spokesman for Hill.\nThe event is part of a campaign called BioCrossroads that was founded to invigorate Indiana's life sciences industry and wean the state's economy away from dependence on heavy manufacturing.\nEli Lilly helped start the campaign in February 2002, along with Indiana and Purdue universities, the city of Indianapolis and groups representing the local health care industry and business leaders.\nThe initiative touts new life sciences companies, as well as established players including Lilly, Guidant, Roche Diagnostics, Dow AgroSciences, Cook Group, IU and Purdue. In October, BioCrossroads officials announced they had raised $73 million for a life sciences venture capital fund.\nThe greater Indianapolis area is home to most of Indiana's jobs in those fields. But campaign organizers have secured corporate and academic support from outside the city and expect all areas of the state to benefit.
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