Putting a face on the region

September 5th, 2014

News Coverage:

Putting a face on the region

Posted: Thursday, September 4, 2014 11:00 pm

By Lucretia Cardenas


Identifying northeast Indiana’s story is similar to a company defining its brand. For this reason, identity experts are being employed to help personify the region.

“We typically look at common strategic operating modes of a company and say, ‘If this company is this personality, this is how they should operate,’” said Scott Ochander, Manchester University’s vice president for enrollment and marketing who also consults with businesses on branding and identity. “We are trying to do the same thing for the region. By determining how the region should operate, we can determine who they should attract (for economic growth.)”

The qualitative analytical process that is rolling out in northeast Indiana under the direction of Ochander and his 10-year consulting partner, Tyler Borders, begins by capturing as much public input as possible.

On Sept. 15, on behalf of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, Ochander and Borders will kick off 20 workshops over two weeks in the 10-county region.

A virtual component will also be available to residents who cannot attend the workshops in person.

The analysis is brought about through a consensus-building process that employs a series of exercises. The consultants will review the outcomes of each workshop and work through the layers of each exercise to draw conclusions about the region’s identity.

“As good qualitative researchers, we want to see insights be exhausted,” Ochander said. “We should see trends emerge and be able to see patterns.”

For example, one exercise, called “tattoo,” is used to study what people say about a region or company and the meaning behind what they say. Participants in this exercise choose an identifying word and place it on a picture of a stick figure. The placement symbolizes the importance.

With several such exercises to move through, each workshop will last about three hours.

The process underway for the region is a duplicate of the process Ochander and Borders used to assist Manchester University define itself. Through 40 workshops with staff, faculty and students, the consultants determined the university has a “provider” trait.

“Since we have a provider trait, we would ask ourselves how do we reach student satisfaction, rather than an organization with a kingly monarch trait, which would not care about perceptions,” Ochander explained.

Following the workshops and analysis this fall, the consultants hope to be able to provide the Regional Partnership with recommendations by January on how better to pursue new businesses.

“If we have 100 companies to pin down and attract to the region, we need to know how to narrow down the list and efficiently use our resources to target the 10 which would benefit most,” said Courtney Tritch, vice president of marketing for the partnership.

Having a unified message means “when you mention northeast Indiana, people will know what we’re talking about,” she said. This will allow the Regional Partnership to have one marketing message to companies looking at the area for growth.

To learn more or to reserve a spot at one of the 20 workshops, visit www.neindiana.com/rsvp.

The workshop details are as follows:

• 7:00-10:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 15, at Ramada Inn, 3855 Indiana 127, Angola

• 2:00-5:00 p.m. Monday, Sept. 15, at La Quinta Inn, 306 Touring Drive, Auburn

• 7:00-10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept.16, at Impact Institute, 580 Fairview Blvd., Kendallville

• 12:00-3:00 p.m. Tuesday, Sept.16, at LaGrange Public Library, 203 W. Spring St., LaGrange

• 7:00-10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17, at Girls Scouts of Northern Indiana-Michiana, 10008 Dupont Circle Drive East, Fort Wayne

• 2:00-5:00 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17, at Region 8 Education Service Center, 251 W 850 N, Decatur

• 12:00-3:00 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 18, at Wells County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development, 211 W. Water St., Bluffton

• 5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 18, at Parkview Whitley Hospital, 1260 E. State Road 205, Columbia City

• 7:00-10:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 19, at Wabash County Chamber of Commerce, 210 S. Wabash St., Wabash

• 7:00-10:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 29, at Ramada Inn, 3855 Indiana 127, Angola

• 2:00-5:00 p.m. Monday, Sept. 29, at Waterloo Train Depot, 215 W. Van Vleek St., Waterloo

• 7:00-10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30, at Noble County Public Library, 813 E. Main St., Albion

• 2:00-5:00 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30, at Shipshewana Event Center, 760 S. Van Buren St., Shipshewana

• 7:00-10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, at Parkview Whitley Hospital, 1260 E. State Road 205, Columbia City

• 12:00-3:00 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, at Manchester University, JYSC Hoff Room - 2nd Floor, North Manchester

• 5:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, at Huntington University, 2303 College Ave., Huntington*

• 7:00-10:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, at Clock Tower Inn, 1335 US 27 N, Berne

• 12:00-3:00 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, at Wells County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development, 211 W. Water St., Bluffton

• 5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, at Pizza Hut Corporate Office, 7100 W. Jefferson Blvd., Fort Wayne

• 7:00-10:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 3, at Huntington University, 2303 College Ave., Huntington

Seating is limited. RSVPs will be taken on a first come, first served basis. To reserve a spot, visitwww.neindiana.com/rsvp.