The Northern Indiana Regional Development Authority is a separate corporate and political body that was formed in 2015 to apply for and then distribute the $42 million of Regional Cities Initiative funding to spur investment in quality-of-life projects for Elkhart, Marshall and St. Joseph Counties and the municipalities within the region. A five-member board experienced in transportation, regional economic development, business and finance was appointed by the Mayors and Commissioners of the member counties and the South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership was engaged to administer the work on behalf of the board.
Indiana Code 36-7.6 defines the process of establishing an RDA and sets forth the duties and powers of the development authority, primarily focused on assisting in the coordination of local efforts concerning projects of regional importance.
The region’s success in securing the regional cities grant served as a catalyst for formation of the RDA and many other regional conversations. Even as the RDA moved forward with implementing the regional cities projects, community leaders indicated strong interest in developing a comprehensive plan that would build economic strength in the region and lead our efforts beyond the quality of place focus. Throughout 2016 and 2017, the RDA convened hundreds of stakeholders in developing strategies in support of the overarching goal to increase per capita personal income in the region to equal or surpass the national average.
Ensuring Prosperity for the Region
The board of the Northern Indiana Regional Development Authority is focused on the long-term prosperity of the region and is focused on raising per capita income of its residents. Starting in 2016 and continuing in 2017, it has invited leaders in the region to come together to think about our future and focus on how it can raise income. Focusing efforts on five key areas, or pillars, will help the region match national per capita income by 2025:
- Educating a world-class workforce
- Recruiting and retaining great talent
- Attracting and growing new economy companies in complement to our remarkably strong manufacturing industries
- Helping entrepreneurs thrive
- Promoting inclusion and sparking opportunities for women and minorities
What follows are the recommendations of members of Regional Economic Development Strategy subcommittees to grow per capita income across the region.