Workshops results tread common regional ground

October 10th, 2014

News Coverage:

Workshops results tread common regional ground

Posted: Thursday, October 9, 2014 11:00 pm

By Linda Lipp

Crafting a marketing message broad enough to cover a 10-county region is hard work.

That’s what the 500 participants who took part in a recent series of 20 workshops – at three hours a pop – discovered.

The data hasn’t been evaluated yet, but already there are some common themes emerging from the “Our Story” meetings sponsored by the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.

“We are all more alike than we know,” consultant Scott Ochander told a group assembled in Bluffton Oct. 2.

Held around the region, the first set of 10 workshops focused on describing the area’s personality. The second set took those characteristics and developed narratives to describe why traits such as practicality, industriousness, dependability and others are important.

The structure of the workshops was based, in part, on Six Sigma process improvement techniques.

“I wasn’t surprised at the theme that was developing,” Ochander said. “I will be interested to see how that translates into a message.”

Participants also got to see how their communities compared with others on a traveling display mounted inside a trailer towed from one workshop to another.

The partnership will launch an online survey, through its website,, in mid-October, said Courtney Tritch, the partnership’s vice president of marketing. The idea is to get some additional feedback, although takers of the 15-minute survey will not be expected to go through the same three hours worth of exercises the in-person workshops entailed.

Ochander and consulting partner Tyler Borders will take a few weeks to crunch the numbers and are expected to produce both a mega report containing all the findings, as well as a three-to-five page executive summary, Tritch said. The partnership will do “a big reveal” of its findings later, probably in January.

The findings will be used to train economic development officials and community leaders on the characteristics they should emphasize in business recruitment activities, Tritch said.

The intent is not to stifle individual ideas and opinions, but to craft a message that is more consistent.

“We call it one voice with many accents,” she said.