FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Is Northeast Indiana speaking with one voice to improve pay, population and post-secondary education in the 11 county region?

The Indiana legislature wants the answer and formed the new Northeast Indiana Strategic Commission to find out.

“We were created to help design that strategic plan and then revise that strategic plan every five years,” said Ron Turpin after Thursday’s meeting. Turpin was elected chair at the organizational meeting last month.

While Northeast Indiana has shown measurable economic growth and revitalization in recent years, it is sometimes difficult to know what efforts are beneficial or being duplicated.

“There are a lot of players out there,” Turpin added. “Each LEDO (Local Economic Development Organization) in every county, you’ve got the Regional Partnership, the Regional Chamber – what’s the overall structure of who’s doing what? Are they staying in their lanes? Are they working together? This work will help answer that.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, the group unanimously decided to hire TIP Strategies for $100,000 to survey the strengths and weaknesses of the area and develop a strategic plan. The Commission, which has no budget, will not spend tax dollars but plans to raise $10,000 from 10 different businesses to cover the cost.

In its presentation, TIP representatives told the Commission the strategic plan work will include:

  • Best practices of regional organizations from across the U.S. with a similar focus on long-term priorities and securing funding for transformational projects
  • State and regional network (entities and individuals that influence NE Indiana’s economic future)
  • Review of area higher education institutions and workforce credentials
  • Regional industry/occupational strengths (growth opportunities) and weaknesses (threats of downsizing/losses)
  • Priorities for the region over the next 5+ years
  • Regional alignment on a vision
  • Regional performance indicators to measure success

The Commission expects the work to run from October, 2021 to March, 2022.