COUNTY CAUCUS: N.E. Indiana mayors, commissioners endorse The Big Goal
FORT WAYNE — A press conference was held Thursday in Fort Wayne to officially announce the formation of a joint caucus of the mayors and commissioners of Northeast Indiana. In a press release issued by the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, the caucus provides a forum to work collaboratively on policy issues of common interest. This collaboration is essential to advance public policy critical to the goal of transforming the economy of the region through their leadership.Along with announcing the formation of the caucus, they also publicly signed the founding documents and endorsed The Big Goal, the region’s effort to increase the number of residents in Northeast Indiana with high quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025.Columbia City Mayor Ryan Daniel said, “We have a lot of vested interest together and with this caucus, we will have a stronger voice. “According to the mayor, it is a rarity to have mayors and commissioners working together in this nature, but it will create an opportunity for mayors and commissioners to discuss goals from a regional level.The formation of this caucus is one of the direct results from a trip that 36 community leaders took to Denver last year to learn from their regional economic development and collaborative leadership efforts. “This is bold leadership by the mayors and commissioners of Northeast Indiana,” said Mayor Richard Hickman from Angola. “We have come to fully embrace the power of building trust and collaborative leadership with our fellow elected officials which is essential to solve today’s community challenges and grow our regional economy.”The Northeast Indiana Regional Workforce Investment Board, the Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana and the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership also assisted in convening the mayors and commissioners to establish this caucus.Mayor Daniel said, “This caucus will have a direct impact on Columbia City. One example is the county’s 911 equipment. The estimated cost was approximately $300,000, but by working together with other counties, we were able to make a joint purchase that saved the county an estimated $200,000.”The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership spearheads the regional visioning initiative Vision 2020, which established The Big Goal as one of the top seven priorities for the region at the end of last year. The Partnership is currently convening leaders, establishing metrics and launching a communications campaign to increase awareness and engagement in achieving The Big Goal. The Strive Network out of Cincinnati, Ohio, which has led similar efforts in cities across the country, has also been engaged to accelerate efforts on this priority.“The mission of our region is to develop, attract and retain talent. This is the most urgent challenge we are facing as community leaders to assure businesses can grow and create 21st Century jobs,” emphasized Commissioner Therese Brown from Allen County. “We have committed to work together as elected officials throughout Northeast Indiana to advance and sustain our efforts to achieve The Big Goal.”The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership was formed in 2006 to help build a globally competitive economy in Northeast Indiana.It is a public-private partnership focused on generating business leads and building regional capacity through product development and effective regional collaboration. Through its combined efforts in business development and capacity building, the Partnership supports its 10 member counties: Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties.Because rural counties tend to have less of an influence at the state level, Mayor Daniel believes that by working together, counties like Whitley County will benefit by being heard, resulting in a greater impact.“Fort Wayne is the hub and we are the spokes in that wheel. We still will maintain our independence, but we’ll gain more influence by coming together as a unit,” said Mayor Daniel.