A story yet to be written

September 17th, 2014

News Coverage:

A story yet to be written

Workshop generates ideas for region’s identity

Posted: Tuesday, September 16, 2014 11:00 pm | Updated: 6:33 am, Wed Sep 17, 2014.

By Barry Rochford

KENDALLVILLE — If Noble County, and by extension northeast Indiana, wants to get its message out across the nation and around the world that this is a great place to visit, live, work and do business, then it needs to speak with a unified voice.

One voice. But with many accents.

That’s the goal of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership’s recently launched “Our Story” project that is attempting to define what distinguishes the region, then create an overall message that can be tailored to individual organizations’ and businesses’ needs.

A unified message can go a long way in dispelling notions those outside northeast Indiana may have about the region, said Rick Sherck, executive director of the Noble County Economic Development Corp.

Every person, he said, makes a first impression.

“How many times is that first impression wrong?” Sherck asked Tuesday morning at Impact Institute’s Fairview Boulevard location in Kendallville. “But that person has to tell their story over and over again to get past that first impression.”

On websites, in brochures, through advertising and via other forums, each business, each chamber of commerce, each visitors bureau, for example, is attempting to tell its own northeast Indiana-related story. But the competing messages sometimes conflict with each other or drown each other out.

“That’s what this is all about. It’s about getting on the same page,” said Courtney Tritch, vice president of marketing at the Regional Partnership.

Led by Tyler Borders, founder of Richland, Washington-based Tyler Borders Consulting, attendees at Noble County’s first “Our Story” workshop Tuesday morning identified what they believe are some of northeast Indiana’s positive traits, selecting words such as “industrious,” “charitable,” “determined,” “traditional” and “persevering,” among many others.

The point of the exercise was to describe northeast Indiana not as you would a geographic area, but as a person.

“This is really viewing the region as a human being,” Borders said. “The way that you look, the way that you communicate is causing people to build perception.”

Ideas generated through a series of word-association exercises will be sifted through by Borders and his partner in leading the “Our Story” project, Scott Ochander, vice president of enrollment and marketing at Manchester University in North Manchester, to develop an overall brand identity for Noble County and the region.

“If we can develop the consistent message of this region, then we can communicate that consistently,” Borders said.

“We should all be rallying around the same voice, the same language.”

The ‘Our Story’ project

The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership began the “Our Story” project to create a consistent brand identity for the region.

For the next two weeks, “Our Story” workshops will be held throughout the 10-county area. A meeting similar to the one in Kendallville was held Tuesday afternoon in LaGrange.

Workshops on the topic of “Refining Our Messaging” will be held:

• From 7-10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30, at the Noble County Public Library, 813 E. Main St., Albion; and

• From 2-5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30, at the Shipshewana Event Center, 760 S. Van Buren St., Shipshewana.

In addition, ideas will be collected online. To reserve a spot for the Sept. 30 workshops, visit neindiana.com/our-story.