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Mayors, commissioners form caucus

July 2nd, 2012

News Coverage:

Mayors, commissioners form caucus

Posted: Monday, July 2, 2012 4:00 am

BY LUCAS BECHTOL lbechtol@h-ponline.com

Mayors and county commissioners from Huntington and nine other counties in Northeast Indiana formed a caucus Thursday afternoon with the hopes of gaining and retaining talent in the area.

Through the caucus, they will work together to form a legislative agenda and speak with one voice for the entire region, said Courtney Tritch, director of marketing for the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.

“This all started back when a bunch of our community leaders went to Denver last year, to check out what they were doing as far as their collaborative efforts,” she said. “When they got back from the trip, the mayors started working together on a caucus and the commissioners started working together on a caucus and they were just announcing (Thursday) that they’ve decided to join forces and start working together.”

The mayors and commissioners also announced they were supporting what is called “the big goal.”

“Basically, the big goal is the region’s effort to try to increase the number of residents in Northeast Indiana with a high quality degree or credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025,” Tritch said.

The region currently has just under 35 percent of residents with degrees or credentials.

Huntington City Mayor Brooks Fetters said it was an historic opportunity for the region to promote the economic wellbeing of the citizens.

“Obviously, if good things happen in Northeast Indiana, there’s a spillover effect into Huntington County,” he said.

He said he wasn’t going to stop thinking of the needs of Huntington, but added it was exciting to see the mayors and commissioners of the area band together for the good of the region.

Fetters said he also liked the caucus’s focus on the big goal.

“I think the main thing that we’re wanting to address is what do we do to support regionally the economic success and vitality of Northeast Indiana and make sure that we’ve got a labor market value workforce that can do the jobs that are needing done here in Northeast Indiana,” he said.

Huntington County Commissioner Leon Hurlburt was at the meeting with his fellow commissioners.

“I think (collaboration) is a great essential if we’re going to advance any public policy and it’s critical to the goal of transforming the economy of our region,” he said.

He said the region was going to see a dividend in the future from this partnership. He spoke to several of the other commissioners and mayors and they all realize they must work together, now.

“If something happens in Allen County, a plant goes there, it’s going to be good for Huntington and vice versa,” Hurlburt said. “And that’s kind of the feeling and philosophy everyone’s taking.”