Nearly 250 people packed the Horizon Convention Center, in downtown Muncie, and were encouraged to share their vision for the future of the six-county region. The crowd included representation from Blackford, Delaware, Henry, Jay, Madison, and Randolph counties.
The program began with the sharing of the State of the Region. This report focused on the key socio-economic and place-based trends, and how these trends were affecting the region’s potential. The presentation outlined a number of key assets for which the community should be proud. It also revealed several negative trends, suggesting the Regional Development Plan is fundamental. Trends related to population loss, low median income, and diminishing home values make a strong case for collective action.
Following the report, participants were asked to think about their aspirations for the region. The “Write the headline” activity asked participants to think about the effect of a successful ADVANCE process 20 years into the future. One headline boldly stated, “Rust belt becomes gold belt as young people stay for hi-tech jobs in health and science fields.”
During the meeting, the planning team for the ADVANCE process presented the framework for the Regional Development Plans as outlined by the state. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation is overseeing the process. They have recently detailed the criteria for projects eligible for funding. The team presented the state’s categories and asked participants to consider their priorities. Improving the quality of place, and addressing the basic infrastructure were identified as the top categories.
Participants shared a high-level of satisfaction and enthusiasm for the meeting. One participant shared, “Thank you for making this happen – our region is going somewhere great!”