Vision 2020, Northeast Indiana
Northeast Indiana is a ten-county area that features conditions from very rural to urban. Strong independent municipalities of great character populate it. Gianni Longo approach was inclusive and holistic. While focused on economic development, it placed physical planning, environmental, and infrastructure considerations on an equal footing. It also focused on the mechanisms and tools needed to go efficiently from consensus to implementation
Confronted by a steady decline in per capita income—a fall from 99 percent to 78 percent of the national average since 1972—a diverse group of leaders from throughout the ten-county Northeast Indiana business, education, and environmental communities decided to take charge and identify specific ways to improve the regional economy. An assessment of other communities with similar challenges led to the realization they lacked consensus on how to act and function as a region. The vision process was organized in series of steps designed to go from gaining a general understanding of economic conditions and attributes in the region, to extensive engagement of the region’s stakeholders. The dialogue that ensued focused on creating a competitive business climate, on how to cultivate local talent, on quality of life, on infrastructure, and on entrepreneurship.
The resulting vision can be defined by two characteristics: its boldness—with a few, strategic “high-impact” recommendations—and the identification of a specific implementation structure, including a major restructuring of how the business community will interact with government at the local and state levels. Both are in the process of being implemented.