February 2017: South Bend – Elkhart Region Update




As a member of the Automotive CommunitiesPartnership (ACP), Michiana Partnership was in attendance with automakers and affiliates of the Center for Auto Research (CAR) during the North American International Auto Show and annual meeting in Detroit last month. For insight gleaned during the meetings and related tour of A2Mac1, Click Here.



Consultant Connect, a consulting agency designed to bridge the gap between economic developers and site consultants, announced its  2017 list of North America’s Top 50 Economic Developers. The economic development professionals selected for this list were nominated by their colleagues in both the economic development industry and the site consultant community for excellent practices, innovation and success in building the communities they serve.

We are thrilled that our regional economic development partner, Rob Cleveland, President & Chief Executive Officer of Cornerstone Alliance made the list! Rob is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD), by the International Economic Development Council and Rob leads the Berrien County economic development organization in their initiatives to attract new business; create jobs; retain and grow the region’s existing business base; help new business start-ups; and fundraising. View Press Release.



Over the past 18-months, the Gallery Building – a historical two-story structure at the northwest corner of Main and Second streets has been a symbol of growth and prosperity for downtown businesses of Niles and the entrepreneurs who operate them. The former Gallery Building has received some TLC since being purchased by UltraCamp.

UltraCamp is a company that manages camps through web-based software serves customers in the U.S. and Canada and combines the practical functionality of online registration with payment processing, form collection, reporting tools, and much more. UltraCamp is adaptively recycling a historic building and creating a modernly creative working environment right here in Downtown Niles, Michigan- Space, not only for their employees, but for their clientele as well. 4-6 times per year, UltraCamp hosts educational forums for groups of 40-60 people learning the UltraCamp software system. While learning how to use the software, participants also get to engage with the creative space developed by UltraCamp for their employees.

UltraCamp’s investment into downtown demonstrates that Niles has the potential to keep its historical feel while retrofitting old brick buildings for modern companies. SLR Pilates has since moved into the lower level of the building and recently expanded to a newly completed part of the building, allowing the business to grow not only its space, but its services. As the downtown continues to see fewer and fewer vacant spaces, this is another step toward creating a successful and prosperous business district. Read More



Wednesday, February 15th was Regional Cities Day at the Statehouse in Indianapolis. Michiana Partnership and a few of our regional stakeholders joined Gov. Eric Holcomb, Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger and representatives from each of the three winning regions for a press conference and reception. The day gave our regional leadership a chance to showcase short and long-term successes of the initiative and discuss its powerful impact on regional development and our state’s economic prosperity. This event provided a great opportunity for community members to meet with their legislators and Statehouse media to talk more about the growing momentum surrounding the initiative.

The Indiana Regional Cities Initiative is an important part of Holcomb’s 2017 Next Level Legislative Agenda, aligning with his goal to make the state a jobs magnet. In the News.



Area Development released their 2016 Leading Locations for New and Expanding Business study. The good news is that Berrien County ranked 15th among more than 390 metropolitan areas across the United States. This study, in its sixth year, looks at four primary indicators that reflect the area’s most recent and future economic vitality and success including Prime Workforce; Economic Strength, Year-Over-Year Growth and Five-Year Growth. Here’s a quick look at some of Berrien County’s assets as a leading location. For more information on the Area Development study, Click Here. 

Economic Strength
Close proximity to a major interstate corridor, I-94 and situated on 40 miles of Lake Michigan’s coastline makes the region accessible to multiple transportation routes including air, ground, rail and water, connecting to major market hubs, domestic and international. Michigan’s business climate is much more competitive than ever due to the elimination of inventory tax and other exemptions related to property. 

Prime Workforce
Access to talent is a top factor in determining if a company will locate to an area or an existing business will expand. It’s important to have an available and trained workforce and Berrien County is fortunate to share a border with Indiana, giving access to over 615,000 employable individuals. Michigan is #1 in the United States for concentration of engineers and Berrien County employs six times the number of engineers in the country, employing more than 2,000 engineers in the region.


This month we celebrated Regional Cities Day at the Statehouse and celebrated the progress we have made in just one year since winning the $42 Million quality of place grant. The state’s foresight in launching and funding the Regional Cities initiative has already brought significant change to our region.

I turned on the news this morning and heard about the $65 Health Aquatics and Community Center that is under construction in downtown Elkhart and the progress of a $35 million mixed use building that will bring a full service grocery store and pharmacy to serve the growing residential population in Downtown South Bend. I know this is now happening in all corners of the state.

The Regional Cities Initiative accelerated the pace of change in regions across the state and increased the scope of our initiatives. These bricks and mortar projects will transform our communities and the State for decades. But beyond that, it provided us an opportunity.

Regional Cities was a watershed moment for the South Bend-Elkhart Region. It has been the perfect catalyst by making us think more broadly, by encouraging our community leaders to come together in an unprecedented way and making us think about sustaining our initiatives that will allow us to both attract and retain the brightest from our schools, our State and our nation. Borders, political and geographical, once considered a barrier to cooperation in our region, have been removed for a more collaborative environment. It also provided an opportunity for the University of Notre Dame to engage with community leaders and the state in a way that has never happened in the Universities first 175 years. And through the formation of our Regional Development Authority, originally intended to manage the regional cities application, but also a lasting framework to lead efforts for the development of a shared vision that goes beyond quality of life. Hundreds of community leaders have worked together to identified five pillars – Entrepreneurship, Workforce, Talent, Industry Growth and Inclusion- and we are now in the thick of a planning process to develop strategic initiatives around these key areas.

This is what a catalyst does. It does not facilitate an already vibrant, robust and successful reaction. Rather it jumpstarts a slower process, producing powerful outcomes.

In the future, we see a thriving vibrant South Bend-Elkhart Region, led by world class companies with a smart, well-educated and entrepreneurial workforce; a region that is connected both electronically and by transport to every corner of the world; a region where every city and town and community is a part of the whole; a region that is a community in every respect of the word — a community with an exceptional quality of life, and supportive place to start and grow a business, and one that offers high paying job opportunity for all of our citizens. The kind of place that attracts and retains highly talented individuals.

Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this process and thank you for already having a significant impact on our region!


Regina Emberton