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Regional message keeps taking shape

September 29th, 2014

News Coverage:

Regional message keeps taking shape

Posted: Monday, September 29, 2014 2:32 pm | Updated: 2:33 pm, Mon Sep 29, 2014.

By Mike Marturello
mmarturello@kpcmedia.com

LAKE CHARLES —Northeast Indiana continues to shape its message through a variety of workshops being held across the 10-county region.

Monday Steuben County officials and citizens met with representatives of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership to conduct the last of two exercises that will lead to putting a face on the region. Steuben County was the first to complete the exercise Monday, with DeKalb County following later in the afternoon.

Similar meeting will be held throughout the remaining counties this week, followed by an online workshop for those wanting to participate and a reveal of the findings either late this year or early next.

“People really do know what northeast Indiana is. Now we just have to start voicing it,” said consultant Scott Ochander, North Manchester.

Even though each of the 10-county region making up northeast Indiana might be unique, there are many similarties emerging. For example, we might be traditional in nature and we are not risk takers.

“One finding we had was we’re not all that different,” Ochander said.

And that covers the most rural communities to the urban.

“We know who we are, we’re just not articulating that yet,” Courtney Tritch, vice president of marketing with the Regional Partnership, said following the first meeting on Sept. 15. “We know exactly who we aren’t. We just want to get the flipside of that.”

The goal of the effort is to determine the voice of northeast Indiana. Then, working through partner agencies such as chambers of commerce, convention and visitor bureaus and economic development agencies, there will be one unified message about the area developed.

Rather than adopt a cookie-cutter approach for the region, Tritch said, each community will have its own voice expressing a similar message. It will be like speaking the same language but with, perhaps, 10 unique accents to deliver the message.

The workshops have been conducted in two phases. The first phase focused on discovering the region’s personality, while the second phase of workshops will center on how the region talks about itself.

Ochander said the first series was fairly conceptual and easy to work through while the second was more concentrated in scope.

During Monday’s meetings, participants reviewed what the entire region came up with in the first phase then started working on symbols and phrases that characterized the region as well as messaging for the region. There were word messaging exercises and a tattoo session. The tattoo session involved participants drawing tattoos of attributes they thought best fit the region, if it were a person.

Through the meetings and public participation it will help establish the region’s reputation — who it is, where it is going as a region and what northeast Indiana will be known for.

As part of the project, a trailer has been made to store all of the data that is collected from each meeting. Anyone wanting to see information collected from each community will have the ability to do so when the trailer is present at local meetings.

People may also learn about the project online at NEIndiana.com/OurStory. In mid-October online workshops will be available to the public through the same website.

The 10-county region in the Partnership include Adam, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley.