Otterbein University announced the largest corporate partnership at The Point, the university's science, technology, engineering, arts and math "Innovation Center."

Since launching The Point in 2016, Otterbein leaders have consistently pointed to corporate partnerships -- within Westerville and beyond -- as one of the center's most important goals.

The Point already has partnered with technology companies like PolymerOhio and Nikola Labs on-site, along with a variety of other organizations.

But at an event held at The Point on Sept. 21, Otterbein announced a partnership among the university, the City of Westerville, JPMorgan Chase and JobsOhio that will establish a financial technology research and development arm of JPMorgan Chase at The Point.

Referred to as a fintech R&D site, the partners involved plan three on-site "innovation spaces" at The Point where project teams made of both JPMorgan Chase experts and Otterbein students from a variety of disciplines will collaborate on "fintech research and development."

According to a release, these "innovation spaces" aim to "create an environment for diverse student experiences and innovative, out-of-the-box thinking."

Otterbein President John Comerford called the plan "a long-term partnership that will benefit all parties."

"Our partnership with JPMorgan Chase is an example of the Otterbein model for a 21st century liberal-arts education," he said. "Our town-gown relationship with Westerville is now stronger with the addition of JPMorgan Chase as a leading business partner at The Point."

Corinne Burger, JPMorgan Chase's chief controlling officer of consumer and community banking in Columbus, said the company has more than 250 Otterbein graduates among its ranks and called the university "a key source of talent."

She said the partnership will "focus on innovation."

"This is truly innovation in action," she said. "We're thrilled to be a part of this exciting endeavor."

From Westerville's perspective, City Manager David Collinsworth said the partnership "fulfills a specific vision" of what The Point could do for the city's economic development program. He said the plan is "bringing together the right partners," and said he hopes the area surrounding The Point can come to be known as the city's "innovation district."

"We've charted a course for economic development to attract jobs, both now and in the future," he said. "With programs like these, Westerville is becoming more attractive to businesses."

Valentina Isakina, managing director for financial services with JobsOhio, said the partnership will help to "grow talent" for the Ohio job market and said the organization is "proud to be a part of this partnership."

"This is a child of love and hard work over the last nine months or so," she said.

For more information on The Point and the partnership, visit www.Otterbein.edu.

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