2017 Results Fuel Critical Regional Economic Development Work in 2018

By: John Sampson on January 10th, 2018

Northeast Indiana Focuses on Business Attraction, Talent Attraction and Talent Development in 2018 

It is time to tie a bow around 2017 and commit with renewed resolve to create an even brighter new year in 2018. 

For the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, I enter 2018 with gratitude for a very special team and hundreds of investors, partners and stakeholders throughout the region and the state who have made 2017 a year of tremendous progress. 

None of the progress of the year past or the hope we have in the year to come would be possible without one another and the challenges we confront together.

Let’s go right to the heart of matter; what did our progress in 2017 look like? 

Here are some of the notable milestones.

Vision 2030

The long-term vision of the region was recast, and we put in place a structure for moving the region forward to address critical challenges as we work to compete in the global marketplace.

Importantly, the investor board of the Regional Partnership, the Regional Opportunities Council (ROC), strongly embraced three regional goals for the year 2030 and has volunteered their time to serve on committees with renewed vigor and enthusiasm. 

By 2030, Northeast Indiana is committed to achieving the following goals.

  • Increase per capita personal income annually against the national average
  • Increase the population of Northeast Indiana to 1 million
  • Increase postsecondary attainment to more than 60 percent

Talent Attraction

Given the critical importance of growing the region’s population and workforce, we launched initiatives to support talent attraction on a regional front.

  • The Northeast Indiana Jobs and Internships website is a list of jobs and internships in the 11-county region to market to talent on a national level.
  • A national digital advertising campaign generated over 5.1 million impressions and over 9,800 clicks with the goal of driving Midwest job seekers to pursue opportunities in the region.
  • We partnered to launch Input Fort Wayne, a weekly online publication, to advance story-telling about our very special and unique quality of life in Northeast Indiana and the incredible talent living and working here. Check out the inaugural edition here!
  • Northeast Indiana collaborated on its first inbound field trip to attract nearly 60 out-of-state university students pursuing degrees in specialty insurance to live and work in the region.

National Public Relations

A major tenet of the Partnership’s mission is sharing the amazing story of the people and the businesses that thrive in Northeast Indiana. Our national PR supports long-term business and talent attraction messaging.

  • 137,702 unique visitors landed on NEIndiana.com searching for jobs, data, research, quality of life information, sites and buildings.
  • 2,526,076 national media impressions were earned from trade journal and media placements.
  • The Wall Street Journal wrote two articles about the Electric Works campus in downtown Fort Wayne, and the work on these stories (in conjunction with partners Greater Fort Wayne Inc, RTM Ventures and Ferguson Advertising) produced 86 million impressions. 

Business Development

Northeast Indiana’s business attraction efforts reached 20 out-of-market national and international locations including two Major Markets sales trips to central Illinois and Chicago. Our reach extended to markets like Boston, Los Angles, Toronto, Germany and Japan.

  • We conducted 296 in-person meetings with corporate business leaders and site selection consultants. 
  • Our 2017 sales efforts produced 99 prospect leads, four inbound site visits and six business development projects for the year.

Road to One Million

The Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority allocated the $42 million Regional Cities funding. No brag, just fact; this region was first to put together the matching public-and-private-sector-funds to get this done in less than one year’s time!

  • The Northeast Indiana RDA funded 23 Road to One Million projects in 10 of 11 counties.
  • Approximately 56 percent of the funding was deployed in Allen County with the remaining 44 percent in the other regional counties.
  • Road to One Million projects totaled $255 million with nearly 60 percent of the project funding coming from private sector sources.

Per Capita Income

Not to be overlooked, our bottom line economic indicator for the region’s economy, per capita personal income, kept pace in 2016 with the national average expanding at 1.6 percent and circulating $613 million in new personal income in the region.

  • Collecting data from 2010 to 2016, we have beat the national average growing our region’s economy by 25 percent and circulating an increase in personal income of $5.15 billion!

That’s a wrap; 2017 is now history. Onward into 2018. 

What are the “big ones” for the new year? Here are a few ideas of what to expect.

Vision 2030

A number of priority challenges will emerge through the year, but those listed below have incredible potential to progress our three goals.

  • Regional Brand Identity - Begin the process of developing and implementing a regional brand identity and execute that strategy by engaging regional brand “ambassadors”.
  • Private Equity - Determine the possibility of newly-created funds to support startups and mature businesses.
  • Targeted Marketing (“Lifeboat” strategy) - Identify and reach out to displaced workers in other locations affected by job losses and outsourcing.
  • College Student Attraction and Retention - Focus on the college-age student decision point for both inbound as well as outbound students.
  • Internships and Apprenticeships - Increase the number and quality of internships, apprenticeships and other experiential learning opportunities with employers.  The long-term objective is 3,500 paid internships across the region.
  • Professional Mentoring - Launch a support system for young professionals to connect to mentoring and professional development opportunities in the region.

National Public Relations

The target is 100 million impressions. Yes, a tall order. This will require working with a number of top-tier media publications to tell regional stories. Yes, difficult, but very worthwhile.

Business Development

This is straightforward to measure and very difficult to accomplish:

  • 300 fresh contacts
  • 75 new leads
  • 25 attraction projects published

Road to One Million

The Northeast Indiana RDA is developing a strategic plan this year. The objective is to sustain operations of the RDA and to continue to fund projects throughout the region consistent with the Road to One Million. This will require a concerted effort to discover sustainable sources of funding and grants. An exciting opportunity has emerged to discover if the RDA can play a role in confronting the regional housing shortage in rural communities.


And, important always to answer, why? Why is this work together critical for the residents of Northeast Indiana? Why does any of this matter? 

I am going to answer this question bluntly; it is not just important, it is imperative.

It is imperative for the City of Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana because we are not Indianapolis, Chicago, Des Moines, Austin or Durham. The stark reality is that we have not earned the national brand identity or reputation that secures our place in the global marketplace. We are not going to just “inherit” success as an economic entity. No one is going to just give this to us because we are great people (though we are). Our future hangs in the balance.

It is up to us; us alone. 

Jim Clifton of Gallup was very clear about this in his book “The Coming Jobs War”.  He did not mince his words. It is up to us if we intend to secure a growing and vibrant future for our residents and our community. 

As the book notes, only 100 cities will win the jobs war. This is not about whether we are capable or not, it is about whether we are committed enough to collaborate around local solutions to our region’s biggest economic challenges.

I am all in. Here is to a brighter new year in 2018 for the residents of Northeast Indiana!

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