Northern Indiana is a knowledge-driven, highly connected region that serves and provides access to a global innovation economy. We will be recognized for our World-Class Higher Education and Community Partnerships, Superior Access and Connectivity and High-Performing Communities. Northern Indiana is the proud home to the University of Notre Dame, and will become a region of connected innovation hubs.
The Regional Cities Initiative (RCI) has drawn necessary attention to a critical economic development truth—without a growing, highly skilled resident population, communities will not realize their full investment and economic potential.
For the last several decades, Northern Indiana has struggled to attract new residents and retain the tens of thousands of high-value students and professionals that have, at one time, called the communities of Northern Indiana home. With over 40,000 people enrolled in higher education programs in the region, there is a pipeline of talent primed for retention within the region.
The Regional Development Plan draws upon research and insights gained from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation's (IEDC) Regional Cities Report and its best practice learning, as well as a growing body of knowledge within the emerging discipline of place-based economic development. Place-based development strategies work to align and improve both the physical environment in which people live and work and the unique resources that exist within communities that can support business development and innovation for greater economic development output. The plan works to influence four key place-based success factors critical in creating competitive places and employment centers. They include: Density, Connectivity, Amenities, and Productivity.
The region will achieve its vision by creating a formal “Innovation District Network” effectively linking and coordinating high-value regional city assets, development projects and innovation hubs. Specifically, the region will build upon its legacy industry base, technology knowledge and capabilities, as well as the strengths of institutions of higher education to retain, attract and create new employment opportunities, increase wages and overall productivity. This network will require and bolster place-based investments designed to both retain and attract the talent needed to grow and sustain the region’s economy.
Visioning has continued for the South Bend-Elkhart Region. A planning framework has been developed beyond the Regional Cities Initiative that continues to envision a prosperous, growing region.
In early 2016, the Regional Development Authority invited 15 leaders from Elkhart, Marshall, and St. Joseph Counties to work together to develop underlying principles for a regional development plan. After discussions over the first half of that year, "A Plan for Prosperity, Growth and Inclusion Version 1.0" was drafted.