Northeast Indiana’s Economic Achievements in 2018

By: John Sampson on January 4th, 2019

How Sustained Action Drives Northeast Indiana's Achievements in 2018

New Year’s Day will always be a special day for our family. We set our alarms for 3 a.m. on Jan. 1 to call and wish our daughter a happy birthday at two minutes after midnight, Pacific Time. Our daughter was the first baby born in California that year which makes every Jan. 1 a very special day for us. It always causes me to be a bit more reflective before launching into the new year.

So, I believe a moment of reflection on 2018 is in order.

In short, the Regional Partnership set out in 2018 to continue to drive the organization’s mission to build, market and sell Northeast Indiana to increase business investment. We worked to “build” a region advancing toward the goals of Vision 2030, “market” the region through national public relations and a regional branding initiative and accelerate our “sell” efforts focused on business development.

Many notable accomplishments are now on record for 2018. Without downplaying other results, I am highlighting five as a reminder of what will be important in the year ahead. While we record the achievement in the year past, the full sustained value of these accomplishments is yet to be realized for years to come.

Top 5 Accomplishments

  1. The Wall Street Journal article on Electric Works was published on Jan. 3, 2018. Altogether, the region garnered 247 million national media impressions in 2018 valued at $1.2 million. Northeast Indiana was featured in the Chicago Tribune, Bloomberg, Chief Executive Magazine, IndustryWeek and more.
  2. We continued to invest in our Road to One Million plan through quality-of-place projects supported by the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority. Investment totaling $256 million was committed through 23 projects in 10 of the 11 counties of the Regional Partnership. The total return of these investments will play out for many years in communities across the region, as just 12 projects were completed in 2018. Only 11 projects more to go!
  3. HoosierHomeBase.com went live in July to complement Northeast Indiana’s Jobs Portal by attracting veterans as they separate from military service. In addition, a social media campaign at 17 military bases across the country produced over 180,000 impressions and thousands of page views. We know more is yet to come through this compelling talent attraction tool.
  4. Northeast Indiana Colleges and Universities formed after several years of building the trust required to achieve true collaborative relationships. The new network, approved by our two public and seven private higher education institutions, allows our region to speak with a unified voice to the collective and unique strengths of our region’s higher education institutions and illustrate Northeast Indiana’s significant pipeline of highly educated graduates entering the workforce annually.
  5. Three new companies, Rural Sourcing, EnviroKure and Samson Exhaust, committed over $14 million in capital investments and 193 new jobs to our region. The business development team published 17 additional projects. Each of these projects may have its own unique “germination” cycle, so to speak. For example, the EnviroKure project was more than four years in the making after it was published. Read more about the business development team's results in 2018 here.

Collectively, these five noteworthy accomplishments in 2018 continue the progress of creating a new future for Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana. Certainly, these results are not our ultimate objective. However, it is my firm conclusion that together, added to other significant results accomplished through the efforts of many communities and partners across the region, these accomplishments will prove “transformative” for Northeast Indiana. 

Sustained Actions Drive Results

You may want to challenge my judgment on this conclusion. However, I believe that transformative action never occurs in isolation or by a singular “game-changing” result. Truly transformative results occur only as an accumulation of sustained actions and results delivered over time that change the trajectory of progress.

The accumulation of our work as a region, including collaborative leadership and leveraged resources, can cause significant and observable progress over time.

The key is sustained action over time, not just the perceived “magnitude” of any one event.

For example, the Wall Street Journal article is one splash, albeit large, in national exposure to the Electric Works project. One story alone is not transformative. However, over the course of the year, there has been a lot of additional progress with the project. The financing for Electric Works is in place, leasing is underway and construction will start in mid 2019. Collectively, the transformation is building for the site, the City of Fort Wayne and the region. The real transformative impact will be realized through sustained follow-up action over time and, hopefully, the follow-up article in a Wall Street Journal.

The three projects could easily be discounted as “modest.” However, with community and regional support of Vision 2030 goals, we should anticipate growth of these companies over time and continued success in winning other larger projects. The impact of the accumulated capital investment over time, including the increase in tax base and job growth, will likely exceed the benefits of the initial announcements.

With just half of the funded projects complete, Road to One Million projects are only a start of continued investment in the region’s quality of life. The real transformative impact occurs over time as communities and the region derive the economic benefits of a higher rate of population growth and talent attraction. 

I met a local family practice doctor recently. He and his immediate family relocated here from California. He started sending pictures of their new home to other family members who remained in California. Having lived in the California climate, I am certainly aware of the pleasant conditions compared to the hardy Midwest. To hear this transplant refer to Northeast Indiana as his home is quite compelling. So much so, the good doctor has relocated the remainder of his family to our region.

My point? We are so driven by short-term results and hard outcomes as a measure of annual achievements that we miss the value of steady, determined and sustained action over time. Finance professionals live this daily as they advise clients on the benefits of compounding savings and investments over time.

Transformation must be viewed as a sustained effort to compound and sustain the rate of change over time. That is real and meaningful progress.

If you still cannot see the combined positive impact accumulated over the long-term, please read this recent article by Matthew Meltzer of Matador Network, “Is your city pricing you out? Here’s what life could be like in America’s most affordable city.” This story could not have been written even five years ago. 

Our rate of progress is accelerating through transformative action every year, and Meltzer, a Miami, Florida resident, is likely more objective than we might be on that progress.

I am very thankful for the progress achieved in 2018.  And, even more, excited to see our tangible progress together magnified in 2019.

Happy New Year, Northeast Indiana!