Vanessa Hurtig, the Go-To Person at NEI

If you need to know anything, and I mean anything, about the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership (NEI), Vanessa Hurtig is your go-to person.

Hurtig is the Vice President of Administration at NEI and has been with the organization since 2007. She started with NEI as an intern during her last semester at the University of Saint Francis. She fell in love with NEI because it was a nonprofit that applied business principles to help it run more efficiently and make the money go even further.

“The reason I wanted to work for a nonprofit was because I wanted to be in an industry where I could help people and promote opportunities to make their lives better,” Hurtig said.

She’s done just about every job in the organization. Hurtig started as a project coordinator and worked her way up to her current role. She works to keep the organization running smoothly, directing all administrative functions of NEI, including human resources, organizational planning, IT and overall administrative support for the team.

“They’ve given me a lot of space to take responsibility and take ownership and keep things running smoothly and impact the culture and who we are. I think my most important job is assembling the team. And then the retention side of keeping people in place, the development side and making sure that everybody is developing and equipped to do the job correctly. And that’s really rewarding to me,” Hurtig said.

It didn’t take long for Hurtig to realize that NEI was the right place for her, and 17 years later, it’s hard for her to envision another place where she could have such a large impact.

“I can’t imagine another position that I could be in where I can impact 800,000-plus people on a daily basis, and not that I’m directly impacting their lives, but in an indirect manner you know, setting up the processes in the organization and keeping things running so that everybody else can do the job of economic development and what we do,” Hurtig said. “That’s really rewarding to me to be able to drive past places that we’ve helped to locate here or downtown quality of life improvements that we’ve helped to facilitate.”

Hurtig has seen the region grow and become a place that is getting recognized on a national level. In 2007, economic development wasn’t taken seriously as a profession. Now, there is a leader of an economic development organization in every country in our 11-country region, and the quality of life in the region has increased exponentially.

“Looking back at where we started, and the fact that we didn’t even have a true region in 2007. When I started to now, we do have a region and we’re recognized in the state as the premier region in Indiana and starting to get some of that recognition nationally,” Hurtig said.

When she’s not in the office, Hurtig loves being outdoors and taking advantage of what our region has to offer. Hiking the trails at Salamonie State Park is one of her favorite things to do, even if her favorite trail isn’t one that’s marked.

“There’s a trail that my dad made up that we used to do when we were kids, and I can never find it myself. Either I have to go with my dad or my brother because they’re the only two that actually remember how they put these different trails together, but it was with one of the waterfalls and we climbed on the side of the waterfall and then were able to climb back up one side of the hill. But you don’t even feel like you’re in Indiana when you’re in Salamonie,” Hurtig said.

March is National Women’s History Month, and a challenge Hurtig faced in her career was when to have children. Becoming a mother and starting a family without sacrificing her career was a big concern. Hurtig has been able to balance work and life at home impressively since the birth of her first child.

“I love my job. I couldn’t necessarily see a life where I was taking my children to daycare all the time. It wasn’t the motherhood experience I wanted, but I didn’t want to give up everything I enjoyed from a professional standpoint,” Hurtig said.

“Vanessa has made a big impact on our region, and she’s had a massive impact on NEI,” Stéphane Frijia, President and CEO of NEI, said. “She has been here since the start. Her depth of knowledge and extensive network of relationships has helped turn NEI into what it is today.”

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