Reflecting on Recent Travels with Regional Pride
I recently participated in a focus group session on how to tell the story of the vibrant agribiosciences sector in Indiana. One of the challenges we identified that detracts from our ability to communicate the importance of agribiosciences to our state is our Hoosier modesty.
When given the opportunity to talk ourselves up, we so often politely demur, keep our lips pursed or stare at our shoes. That allows us to miss the opportunity to confidently share what is good about this sector.
With that in mind, I don’t want to miss this opportunity to share two recent stories from my travels outside our state that reflect on the culture and amenities in Northeast Indiana.
A Spring Break Story
The first example is from our recent family trip to Washington, D.C. for spring break. We visited the National Zoo, the Museums of American History and Natural History, and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center to visit the National Air and Space Museum.
During our visit, I was continuously reminded that Northeast Indiana is located within a two-hour drive of some of the best museums, zoos and other attractions just as good, if not better, than those in D.C.
I would be hard pressed to come up with more than exhibits at the National Zoo that we don’t have at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. It’s difficult for us to make it through the Field Museum in Chicago in a single-day, whereas we cruised through the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in only a few hours. I could list half a dozen other amenities in the Midwest that rival or surpass those found in D.C., which is not to diminish the quality of what you can find in our nation’s capital, but rather to lift up what we have available to us in our own backyard. At the risk of underselling our vacation to D.C., our kids did enjoy traveling on the Metro and I am kicking myself for not visiting the Arlington National Cemetery much sooner.
The Power of Collaboration
One more example to share speaks to the culture of our Fort Wayne region. I represent the Regional Partnership at the Industrial Asset Management Council (IAMC), which brings together professionals involved in corporate real estate at large corporations (think Cummins, Rolls Royce and Zimmer Biomet), service providers such as commercial real estate firms and site selection consultants, and leading economic development organizations. This professional association seeks slow, steady, balanced growth in its membership base. The vibe is laid-back, social, and relationship based. And it reminds me of exactly how we do business in Northeast Indiana. The IAMC event I attended in Tampa on April 9-12 was very much like the Regional Opportunities Council (ROC) meeting I participated in on April 13. There to build relationships, discuss shared issues and concerns, and work together on new opportunities. Low-sales and high-information sharing environment. So the spirit of collaboration that we have put at the foundation of our regional efforts is just what IAMC has sought to build over the same 11-year timeframe. Again, our willingness to work together across our business, education, and government backgrounds, to share our knowledge and contacts, and to contribute our influence toward advancing our region, are all characteristics that we should recognize and celebrate. Others are working to create something similar to what we have found to be the key attributes of our regional culture.
What does all this mean? For me, it means having a few more stories to share of how our region is a proven contender, ready to compete in the global marketplace based on the amenities we can access in the Midwest and the culture of collaboration that exists in our region.