Are We Doing Enough to Reach Our Vision 2030 Goals?

February 5th, 2020

10 Years to Make Transformational Economic Progress in Northeast Indiana

In Northeast Indiana, has “good become good enough?”

It is hard to believe that January 2020 is already a matter of history. Have you been able to sustain your New Year resolutions? Or, have you already exchanged your resolutions for more reasonable expectations to bring your goals within reach?

This year represents a unique milestone for our region. Many may recall that it was only 10 years ago that we put a stake in the ground for a long-term vision to build a region competitive in a global marketplace all centered on a fledgling program we called “Vision 2020.” 

If you visit our office in downtown Fort Wayne, you’ll see the Vision 2020 entry on the timeline wall.

The Launch of Vision 2020

In 2010, the Regional Partnership launched Vision 2020 to bring the region together around five key pillars for economic growth: 21st Century Talent, Competitive Business Climate, Entrepreneurship, Infrastructure and Quality of Life. Vision 2020 became the key strategy in building a globally competitive region to increase business investment.


While we have made tremendous progress, we also have agreed that our work is not done. Despite significant challenges, we have overcome many obstacles on our way to creating a “new” Northeast Indiana to raise the level of business investment and create a more prosperous region for its residents. 

Just last month, I dwelled on the distinct competitive advantage in the trust and collaboration we have built and practiced routinely to achieve incredible results over the past decade. It is truly impressive when you take stock of the many accomplishments we have achieved together.

It is safe to say that successes like the Lafayette Center Road extension, Talent Initiative and the Regional Cities Initiative grant would not have been possible but for the collaborative habits of our region. I love to recall 2012 when the ROC declared riverfront development in downtown Fort Wayne as the highest quality of place priority for Vision 2020. Many said, “You will never see it, John.” We are today reaping the benefits of the vision and determination to accomplish the often “unlikely” and the sometimes “impossible.”

In 2017, we agreed it was time to recast Vision 2020 to the year 2030 and identify very specific goals to further define our targets for per capita personal income (PCPI), population growth and credential attainment. Now that the year 2020 is upon us, it is time to take stock of our rate of progress.

Analysis of 2030 Goals

Are we satisfied? Will the current rate of growth get us where we intend to be by 2030? Will we achieve the economic benefits promised in our Road to One Million plan? Are our current lists of projects and committees the most beneficial use of limited resources? Are we missing any ingredients necessary for future success? 

Make no mistake, we are not rendering a critical view of our past efforts. In this case, we need to make a very honest assessment of where we are, where we intend to be by 2030 and determine if our current momentum is “good enough.”

The Regional Partnership team has spent considerable time wrestling with these questions over the last year in preparation for our annual operating plan for 2020. We believe this discussion is fundamental to where we intend to be when we get to 2030 and what role the Regional Partnership and regional leadership will take in driving the outcomes necessary to secure and sustain the economic relevance of this region in a global marketplace. 

As it stands today, Fort Wayne is somewhere in the ‘70s of the national ranking of the top 100 most populated U.S. cities. However, this discussion is not really about growing city boundaries. The decisions we are making are about the growth of our metro region where we rate well below the top 100 metros. In other words, are we confident that we will be attracting and retaining sufficient skilled talent to fuel the growth of this region’s employers over the next decade?  

Now is the time to ask while there is still time to make a difference. Is our current rate of growth sufficient in an era of a critical national talent shortage? Over the next 10 years, will Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana be a leader or a victim of a global economic war for good jobs? 

Northeast Indiana has spent the past decade building regional leadership and collaboration to support a national brand identity in the City of Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana. As a result, I believe the decisions we are now able to consider and make together will largely determine whether we are on the list growing of metros in the next decade or not. It is up to us. Northeast Indiana and Fort Wayne leaders are responsible for the future economic growth of this region.

As business and community leaders of Northeast Indiana, we need to fully develop and explore this conversation. Are we satisfied with the momentum over the past 15 years? While we have made progress, have we achieved a higher level of “good enough” knowing we will fall well short of the goals we have committed to achieving? 

As a Regional Partnership team, we think not. We can ill afford to leave to chance whether our employers create good jobs finding the talent, infrastructure and business climate here in Northeast Indiana or somewhere else in the world, because we have become complacent enjoying the many benefits of our current momentum.

Let’s be intentional as leaders in Northeast Indiana. “Good is not good enough” any longer.

In Northeast Indiana we are intentional about collaborating. After all, we can't grow our community alone. Are you ready to collaborate for a brighter future?

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