Top regional priorities unveiled, Northeast Indiana on track for 2020

FORT WAYNE – A press conference was held Monday at the IPFW Alumni Center by the Regional Opportunities Council, the leadership body for the Vision 2020 initiative, to announce the long-awaited, top priorities established for Northeast Indiana to achieve by the year 2020.Vision 2020, a regional initiative stewarded by the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, was established to reverse the decline in per capita income that has plagued Northeast Indiana for nearly 40 years. (In 2009, the per capita income in Northeast Indiana fell to 79.5% of the national average.) To accomplish this, five key focus areas--The Pillars of Vision 2020--were identified as having the potential to create the most significant impact on the growth of the region's economy: 21st Century Talent, Competitive Business Climate, Entrepreneurship, Infrastructure and Quality of Life.Under the leadership of the Regional Opportunities Council, the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership has spent months garnering feedback from citizens across the 10-county region, establishing buy in from regional leadership and benchmarking successful regions across the country. As a result of feedback from the many partners and stakeholders working on Vision 2020, a final slate of priorities, which align with the five pillars, was unveiled today.Future Hinges on Regional TalentTalent is the underlying current that ties The Pillars of Vision 2020 together. Without a focus on developing, attracting and retaining talent, none of the five pillars will be successful. As a result, the Regional Opportunities Council voted at their October meeting to officially adopt a regional mission around talent: The mission of Northeast Indiana is to develop, attract and retain talent."We can no longer deny that the future of Northeast Indiana hinges on talent. If we focus on growing our talent pipeline to meet current and future business needs, we can attract even more business investment to the region. And by growing our economy through talent, we will be able to reverse the decline in per capita income and change the trajectory of our region's future," said Bob Taylor, President & CEO of Do It Best Corp. and member of the Regional Opportunities Council. With multiple organizations, businesses and individuals moving Vision 2020 forward, maintaining alignment is critical for long-term sustainability. To affirm alignment with the mission, the Regional Opportunities Council also adopted an overarching vision for Northeast Indiana. The vision is for Northeast Indiana to become a top global competitor, exceeding the expectations of businesses and residents."A unified mission and vision for Northeast Indiana ensures that as we develop strategies within each pillar, we are doing so with focus, continuing to align with our core purpose for years to come. This is not about one organization aligning with these goals; it's about all of us--education, business and civic leaders alike--agreeing that to be successful, we need to realize the power of speaking with one voice," said Dr. Jerrilee Mosier, Chancellor of Ivy Tech Northeast and member of the Regional Opportunities Council.Top Priorities Set for Northeast IndianaThe priorities being unveiled today are long-term goals that the region will work collectively on achieving by the year 2020. They have been vetted extensively and have consistently been ranked by participants in the Vision 2020 process as being both difficult to execute and highly desirable based on their potential impact on the region. As a result, the Regional Opportunities Council considers them to be key game changers for the future of Northeast Indiana.21st Century TalentThe BIG GoalThe BIG Goal, as set forth by the Lumina Foundation, entails increasing the proportion of Northeast Indiana residents with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60% by 2025. Currently, only 31.5% of residents in the region hold a degree. Reaching this goal will directly impact both the success of our businesses and the per capita income in the region.EntrepreneurshipQuick StartQuick Start is a one year pilot program that provides expert advisory services to accelerate entrepreneurial opportunities and small, high growth companies. It is a partnership of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), Elevate Ventures, Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and JumpStart. Quick Start will also coordinate efforts with the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center, Small Business Development Center, SCORE and the LEDO Council.InfrastructureRegional Internet AccessRegional internet access will provide our talent with the tools necessary to access global markets, develop and improve technological skills and improve communication. Considering models such as iMAN in Steuben County, we will work to become one of the most wired regions in the country.Regional Interstate AccessibilityFocusing on regional interstate accessibility will improve access to major transportation corridors. With the limited amount of state and federal resources, we must work collectively to prioritize and advocate for those transportation projects that will transform our regional transportation system. The Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana's efforts to bring community leaders together around the I-69 to Roanoke Project is the first significant endeavor towards addressing this priority.Competitive Business ClimatePermittingStreamlining the permitting and zoning processes across the region will create a more business-friendly climate, providing greater efficiencies to support our top industry talent. National research of permitting best practices tell us that successful efforts include the following: improvements driven by customer demand, common environmental interests, which serve as a catalyst for improvements, utilizing technology to make improvements sustainable, and the importance of empowering jurisdictions to lead and own these improvements.Air Service at FWAIncreasing flight frequency as well as non-stop air service options will provide our regional talent with greater access to national and global markets. This ease of mobility will also encourage business and job growth and increase our capability to host major conferences.Quality of LifeDowntown Riverfront DevelopmentRiverfront development in downtown Fort Wayne will help create a vibrant and dynamic metro center for the region. Creating strong quality of place and offering increased social and cultural amenities will attract young talent and tourists as well as provide an asset for current residents. It could also align with trails, public transit and other waterways to serve as a catalyst for future developments throughout the region."It shows great strength in our region that we were able to successfully collaborate on developing these priorities. Now we need you, the residents of Northeast Indiana, to help turn these plans into action," said John Sampson, President & CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. "While the Partnership has been leading the Vision 2020 efforts, the implementation and success of the Vision is ultimately dependent on everyone's willingness to engage in the process, collaborate with key partners and align to support the strategies set forward today. As we have said before and will continue to say, it is up to us together to write the new story for the future of Northeast Indiana."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. In 2010, the Partnership launched Vision 2020 to bring the region together around five key areas for economic growth: 21st Century Talent, Competitive Business Climate, Entrepreneurship, Infrastructure and Quality of Life. 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.