WARSAW — The Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation recently shared the results of a six-month benchmarking project to learn from best-in-class Midwest communities.
“Our stakeholders believe Warsaw and Kosciusko County should be among the leading small Midwest communities,” said KEDCo CEO Alan Tio, “With that in mind, we convened the Small Cities, Big Futures Project to learn from the ‘best of the best’ in our peer group.”
KEDCo engaged with the Community Research Institute at Purdue University, Fort Wayne, to lead an evaluation of quantitative and qualitative data for Warsaw and eight other Midwest peer cities with corporate headquarters or significant production facilities for well-known American companies. The other peer cities examined are: Batesville, Ind.; Benton Harbor, Mich.; Bloomington, Ill.; Columbus, Ind.; Findlay, Ohio; Lancaster, Ohio; Midland, Mich.; and Peoria, Ill.
“Warsaw and Kosciusko County are in a position of economic strength thanks to the outsized presence of world-class orthopedic medical device manufacturers for a community of this size,” said CRI Director Rachel Blakeman, “While the community may as a result be vulnerable to circumstances outside the control of local leaders, the report recommendations will improve quality of life and make the community more attractive for businesses and residents alike.”
CRI offered 19 recommendations for local leaders under the headings of collaboration, community development, economic development and talent, to build on key industries and community assets. Examples include strengthening collaboration across sectors in order to solve community problems and encouraging private sector investment in community and economic development.
“We saw firsthand how local leaders in Findlay, Ohio, were all trained on how to use the ‘Findlay Formula’ for stakeholder engagement to solve local problems,” said Kosciusko County Community Foundation CEO Suzie Light, “We are confident that our leaders can build similar capabilities to respond to challenges and get in front of opportunities in our community.”
The project was funded by KEDCo, the Kosciusko County Community Foundation, Lake City Bank, and Parkview Health. Next steps include development of a Small Cities, Big Futures network of in order to learn from and communicate success among the peer cities. A two-page overview of the Small Cities, Big Futures report can be found at the link HERE.