Regional Cities Initiative

Indiana’s Regional Cities Initiative

The Indiana Regional Cities Initiative is helping communities across Indiana come together to transform their regions into nationally-recognized destinations to live, work and play. With employers continually stressing the need for a large, skilled workforce, Indiana is building upon its strong economic foundation to create a quality of place that attracts and retains future generations of Hoosiers.

In 2015, that need led seven Indiana regions to collaboratively create compelling strategic regional development plans that include more than 420 projects. Because of the Regional Cities Initiative, 70 percent of the state's population now lives in a region with a bold and viable plan for transforming its future.

Now, South Bend Elkhart and regions across the state are breaking ground and cutting ribbons on projects that will enhance and enrich communities’ arts, culture, recreation, innovation and connectivity.

What is the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative?

The South Bend - Elkhart Region

The Regional Cities Initiative in north central Indiana represented over half a million people in 22 interconnected cities and towns in Elkhart, Marshall and St. Joseph counties. The group consists of and leverages the collective experience and services of the South Bend-Elkhart region’s leading business, academic, philanthropic and government leaders to support transformational economic development projects and strategic initiatives that will improve quality of life and spur population growth.

The Northern Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) submitted its Innovate Indiana Regional Development Plan representing 22 cities and towns and more than a half a million people in Elkhart, Marshall and St. Joseph Counties, to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). The submission represented the collaboration of more than 700 business, academic, public and private leaders in the region.

As part of the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative’s first phase, the state has selected North Central, Northeast and Southwest Indiana to receive $42 million each in matching funds to support their regional development plans.

The South Bend - Elkhart Regional Partnership, which helped lead the effort to secure the $42 million Regional Cities grant for the South Bend - Elkhart region also serves as the administrator for the RDA.


The Regional Cities of Northern Indiana initiative serves every citizen and business organization of Elkhart, Marshall and St. Joseph Counties through a commitment to pursuing transformational economic development projects and strategic initiatives for the entire three-county region. Since November 2014, the Regional Cities of Northern Indiana has engaged business, philanthropic, academic and government leaders from Indiana communities across Elkhart, Marshall and St. Joseph Counties in the planning process. In doing so, a group formed that leverages the vast experience and services of Northern Indiana's leading business, academic, philanthropic and government leaders.


  • November 2014: Kickoff meeting to introduce the region to the RCI initiative drew more than 200 people, the most of any region, to learn more.
  • Over 40 regional leaders interviewed, including Steering and Strategy Committee members, to collect their input on the region’s opportunities and challenges and potential project ideas.
  • Early March 2015: First round of public input sessions conducted to collect ideas and feedback from the public about possible projects. Sessions were held in four counties, and more than 100 people participated.
  • March 2015: St. Joseph County Chamber’s Salute to Business luncheon, attended by 800 community leaders, featured the Regional Cities effort as the keynote address.
  • March 19, 2015: Project leaders updated the public about the status of the region’s RCI efforts at a public meeting.
  • Early April 2015: The second round of public input sessions was conducted to present a refined list of project ideas and begin developing project applications for the regional development plan. Sessions were held in three counties, and nearly 100 people participated. Following these sessions, 45 project applications were submitted online from around the region for consideration in the plan.
  • April 14, 2015: The University of Notre Dame hosted elected officials throughout the region to provide an update on the RCNI initiative and to discuss the Regional Development Authority (RDA).
  • Early June 2015: With near unanimous support, the Elkhart, Marshall and St. Joseph County commissioners voted to adopt the ordinance to establish the RDA.
  • Early June 2015: A focus group meeting with 15 private-sector executives validated the RCNI vision and goals.
  • Late June 2015: The five-member RDA board was appointed by written agreement of the executives of the RDA members, and the members endorsed the regional development plan.