Vision 2030

Northeast Indiana’s Vision for Economic Growth
May 6, 2017
Kylee J. Shirey

When Vision 2020 was adopted in 2010, it was Northeast Indiana’s first effort to build a globally competitive region. It was the result of an 18-month regional visioning process, in which business and community leaders across then ten counties identified five pillars to guide Northeast Indiana’s community development initiatives: 21st Century Talent, Business Climate, Entrepreneurship, Infrastructure and Quality of Life. 

During the last seven years, the Regional Opportunities Council (ROC), comprised of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership’s leadership-level investors, has provided strategic guidance and oversight for vetting and managing priorities that have been tackled under Vision 2020. 

Northeast Indiana on the Rise

“The ROC’s leadership, combined with our work together as a region, has resulted in significant progress on the Vision 2020 priorities,” says John Sampson, president and CEO of the Regional Partnership. Some highlights of those successes include: 

  • Adding multiple new flights at Fort Wayne International Airport to support our air service priority; 
  • Providing $30 million in funding for the extension of Lafayette Center Road to improve interstate access; 
  • Welcoming nearly 5,000 visitors to the rivers in Fort Wayne to support downtown riverfront development, now sustained by our community partners at the City of Fort Wayne’s Riverfront Fort Wayne program; and 
  • Winning $42 million from the Regional Cities Initiative to invest in regional quality of life assets through the Road to One Million plan, and forming the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) to facilitate that plan. 

When Vision 2020 launched in 2010, Northeast Indiana was experiencing the highest unemployment rates the region had seen in recent history. 

“Unemployment was almost 12 percent and per capita personal income (PCPI), which measures average income earned per person, had hit an all-time low at roughly 80 percent compared to the national average,” says Rick Sherck, Executive Director of the Noble County Economic Development Corporation.  “Today, however, is much different.  Our unemployment rate is near an all-time low hovering around 4 percent and PCPI is on a steady six-year increase.” 

The Burning Platform

As we approach the year 2020, the time has come to recast Vision 2020 and set the vision for how we will continue to build our region over the next decade and beyond. “When we started the process of building the region, we had more people than we had jobs; today, we have more jobs than we have people,” notes Ryan Twiss, vice president of Regional Initiatives at the Regional Partnership.

“Skilled talent and population growth are the burning platform that demands urgency in response,” says Sampson. “We must attract and retain talent to meet the needs of regional employers, while continuing to pursue new businesses to bring to the region.”

A New Framework

“The five pillars of Vision 2020 gave us the structure we needed seven years ago to begin organizing and collaborating as a region,” says Ray Kusisto, CEO of Ortho NorthEast and ROC Chair. “Today, however, a new framework is needed which will allow the region to grow at an even faster pace and give us the ability to quickly pivot in response to an ever-changing market,” he continues. “Vision 2030 is that framework.”

Where Vision 2020 focused on creating a movement, Vision 2030 will focus on action. By the year 2030, Northeast Indiana must:

  • Increase PCPI annually against the national average; 
  • Increase the population of Northeast Indiana to 1 million residents; and 
  • Increase postsecondary educational attainment to more than 60%.

“Vision 2030 helps us accelerate our progress, by providing an integrated strategy that combines three critical areas of regional economic development – business attraction, talent attraction and talent development,” says Twiss. “Using Northeast Indiana’s target industries as a strategic filter, we are mobilizing the ROC to continue leading this work and aligning it with the work of other community partners and initiatives in ways we have not previously been equipped to do,” he continues.

Capitalizing on our Own Success

Thanks to the hard work of regional leaders through Vision 2020, Northeast Indiana is now widely recognized as the most collaborative region in Indiana. Regional collaboration, together with business leadership and participation, has become a hallmark for how we do economic development in Northeast Indiana. 

Sampson states, “As we pursue our bold goals for Vision 2030, we will do what we know has worked before – convene regional stakeholders, confront the most critical long term priorities, and collaborate together to move the region to a new future.”

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