By J SWYGART
Representatives from Adams County and 10 other counties in Northeast Indiana joined in a gala celebration in Fort Wayne on Thursday evening to celebrate the recent announcement that the Northeast East Regional Partnership — of which Decatur and Adams County are a part — will receive $42 million in funding for various projects in the 11-county partnership area. John Sampson, president and CEO of the partnership group, led the nearly 1,000 business and municipal leaders and representatives of various civic organizations in a toast to celebrate the region’s success. “This was no trivial task,” said Sampson. “I’d like to thank our corporate sponsors and the chairpersons of our steering committee. Our presentation (to the Indiana Economic Development Corp.) smashed the competition. And thanks to the members of county councils and boards of commissioners throughout the region who told the state of Indiana that their money would best be spent in Northeast Indiana.” Sampson said the “Road to
One Million” title given to the program indicates the goal of boosting the collective population of the 11-county region to 1 million over the next 10-20 years. “The number one challenge of employers today is finding tomorrow’s talent,” he said.
Adams County was well represented at Thursday’s celebration, with more than two dozen civic and community leaders in attendance. Decatur Mayor Ken Meyer led a large delegation from the city, and several members of
the South Adams Trails Inc. group were also present for the occasion. Adams County ECD Director Larry Macklin, North Adams Superintendent of Schools Brent Lehman and County Commissioner Rex Moore were also on hand to celebrate the region’s success. Also representing the county and a key player in the future of the region was Andrew Briggs, president of Bank of Geneva. Briggs has been active in the NE Indiana Regional Partnership since its inception more than nine years ago and is one of five members of the Regional Development Authority, the group which will prioritize projects throughout the 11-county region. The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership was formed in 2006 to help build a globally competitive economy in Northeast Indiana. It is a public-private partnership focused on generating business leads and building regional capacity through product development and effective regional collaboration. In 2010, the Partnership launched Vision 2020 to bring the region together around five key areas for economic growth. Through its combined efforts in business development and capacity building, the partnership supports its 11 member counties of Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties. The Regional Cities Initiative is a program created by the Indiana Economic Development
Corporation in 2015 with the goal of transforming Indiana’s approach to economic development by creating dynamic communities that attract and retain talent. The ROC invested $50,000 in the execution of Northeast Indiana’s Regional Cities proposal. A Regional Cities Steering Committee was formed representing all 11 Northeast Indiana counties, including Adams. The region’s overall 11-county plan that was approved for state funding contains more than 70 projects and $1.5 billion in investment to be completed over the next decade. Thirty-eight of these projects were identified for priority funding over the next two years based on viability and impact and included in the application. Of the projects submitted in the application, four were from Adams County, including: • The South Adams Trails Inc. project, • Decatur’s Second Street Lofts/Creative Engagement Center, • Decatur’s wetlands project, and • Decatur’s facade/ revitalization project.