The group trying to bring more workers to northeast Indiana has a new message for prospective employees and businesses: Make It Your Own.
That phrase comes from six months of focus groups and perception studies by the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.
“So our employers are screaming for new talent,” says Kate Virag, Vice President of Marketing & Strategic Communications for the Partnership.
The phrase – Make It Your Own – kept coming up in talks with residents, especially transplants.
“People who moved here from outside said what a difference in quality of life and opportunity they had here,” Virag adds. “So we have 11 counties here with a diverse quality of life. We have rural living, downtown Fort Wayne living, and lakes. They told us the opportunity to live your best life here was unlike any other place they’ve been.”
The other key selling benefit of our area? The ability to influence change right away.
“We know that a seat at the table and making a difference is something that we can really offer to someone who would be potentially looking at northeast Indiana for a place to call home,” Virag explains.
The Regional Partnership has set a “Road To One Million” goal which would give the 11-county area one million residents compared to the 750,000 they cite now. More people should mean a more skilled workforce and be atypical for a midwest region, which often sees population decline.
“If we don’t grow, we’re not going to keep up with our competitors and we’re not going to be able to fill the jobs that our existing employers and our new employers need,” says Michael Galbraith, Director of the Road to One Million for the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.
The improvements and momentum of the region require a new marketing message, Galbraith explains.
“That’s one of the really big reasons why we wanted to roll this (new message) out was that we have a better product to sell at this point.”
The Partnership encourages area recruiters and businesses to use their new materials as they correspond with recruits. Those resources are at www.MakeItYourOwnNEI.com.
Additionally, different types of ads will target prospective residents ages 21 to 45 who want to put down roots. Most people outside the area know very little about northeast Indiana.
“We did an external research for this project and found that of the external talent that we surveyed in markets like Detroit and Chicago and Dallas and Columbus, Ohio, 60% of people had very little to no perception of Northeast Indiana,” Virag says.
“So we’re really looking at that as a positive. That’s a blank slate for us to be able to educate and market to those people to tell them what a great quality of life and amazing opportunities we have here.”
Galbraith would like to see people already here share the same message, especially to people who might have moved away.
“Because the hometown that they may have left 15 years ago is a far better place. And if you’re tired of living in a shoe box apartment, paying $3,000 a month for 600, square feet, you might want to think about coming back to northeast Indiana.”
The Regional Partnership describes itself as a public private partnership founded for the purposes of increasing business investment in the 11 counties of Northeast Indiana.