FORT WAYNE — The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership received a matching grant from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. that will allow it to increase domestic business development trips and site selector visits to the 11-county region consisting of Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties.
The $100,000 grant will be matched by existing funds from the regional partnership’s business development budget, according to Kate Virag, the partnership’s vice president of marketing and strategic communications.
“The grant expands our travel efforts and allows us to do more on behalf of the region, to reach our Vision 2030 goals of growing population and increasing per capita personal income and educational and credential attainment,” she wrote in an email. “Business development professionals and local economic developers always target jobs with averages wages higher than the regional average wage.”
The trips not only focus on northeast Indiana’s target industries including Advanced Materials of Warsaw’s Zimmer Biomet and Depuy Synthes and Woodburn’s BFGoodrich; Design & Craftsmanship’s Fort Wayne-based Sweetwater and Vera Bradley and Smith Brothers of Berne; and Defense and High-Tech Communications’ BAE Systems, Raytheon and Harris Corp., all of Fort Wayne.
They also have “specific emphasis around our established target industries of Vehicles, Medical Device & Technology, Specialty Insurance and Food & Beverage. Our team, along with our partners, sell the benefits of doing business in northeast Indiana,” Virag wrote.
By 2030, through business attraction and talent attraction and development, the goals for the region are to:
• Increase per capital personal income to 90% against the national average
• Increase the population of northeast Indiana to 1 million residents
• Increase postsecondary educational and credential attainment to more than 60%
Keith Gillenwater, president and CEO of Grow Wabash County, said in a statement from the partnership that the additional money allows local economic development organizations like Grow Wabash to increase the region’s U.S. presence and enhance the region’s collaborative approach to business development.
“Grow Wabash County and the Regional Partnership travel together frequently selling our county, region and state. With the support of this grant, we have been able to maximize our economic and business development work to make northeast Indiana a magnet for the best businesses and talent by boosting our travel efforts,” Gillenwater said.
This year, regional representatives traveled to competitive markets including San Francisco, Las Vegas and Chicago to meet with business executives and site selectors to build relationships. The region is working in collaboration with individual counties and communities to strategically target key industries and key U.S. destinations that align with northeast Indiana’s economic growth and vision for its future.
“Indiana is consistently recognized as best in the Midwest and among the top five in the nation for doing business,” Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger, who joined the region’s business development trip to California in May, said in the partnership statement. “We’re in the leadership position. Growing Indiana’s workforce, business and industries will require focused, if not aggressive, initiatives and recruitment. As a region, northeast Indiana and its communities are uniquely positioned to promote their competitive advantages and work to attract new investment and job opportunities to the state for the benefit of Hoosiers.”
To enhance the region’s U.S. presence and increase regional business development efforts, the Regional Partnership also hosted four nationally recognized site consultants who met with more than 30 regional economic development leaders for a day of discussions on industry best practices.
The training was coordinated by the Site Consultant Advisory Group, a division of Area Development Magazine, the publisher of a national site consultant magazine and host of several site consultant conferences every year.
The SCA Group consulted with economic development groups, regional stakeholders, business leaders and elected officials to review and provide feedback on current processes. The daylong training was designed to provide specific feedback on how to compete for and win economic development projects. The SCA Group training was also an opportunity to highlight the benefits of doing business in northeast Indiana to the site selector attendees.
John Sampson, president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, said by working together as an 11-county region to learn best practices and enhance opportunities with local and statewide partners, he is confident the IEDC grant will benefit not only the region, but also the entire state. The grant is part of a new IEDC program launched this year, which awards matching funds up to $100,000 to a region to support business development trips and site selector visits, enabling each region to drive strategies based on its unique industries and advantages.
“We are grateful to the IEDC for their leadership and awarding northeast Indiana this impactful grant to boost our business development efforts. Enhancing Northeast Indiana’s ability to attract top businesses is critical to raising our region’s wages, growing our workforce and increasing educational and credential talent. With the IEDC’s significant grant to our business development efforts, we can enhance our U.S. presence and strengthen northeast Indiana’s ability to compete in the global marketplace through regional collaboration,” Sampson said in the statement.