INDIANAPOLIS – Three Indiana cities unveiled ambitious economic development plans, outlining long-term strategies to better fuel economic growth, innovation and quality of life for current and future residents.
These new growth agendas for Michigan City, Seymour and Warsaw were developed in partnership with local residents and funded by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, or IEDC, in an effort to increase economic mobility and opportunity statewide, enabling these smaller communities to be better equipped to access new funding from the recently expanded Indiana Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative, also known as READI.
“As we think about increasing the vibrancy of our regions and advancing quality of life and quality of place across Indiana, we want to ensure that all communities – regardless of size or resources – have the opportunity to grow and better position themselves for long-term success,” said Indiana Secretary of Commerce David Rosenberg. “These three plans directly address the challenges small cities face when working to build economic opportunity. The visions and strategies now in place in Michigan City, Seymour and Warsaw will enable these communities to better attract capital and fuel development and revitalization, positively impacting their residents and creating more opportunities for families for years to come.”
These three plans were developed during year-long ‘learning labs’ that enabled local teams, including government, industry and nonprofit officials as well as current residents, to work together with national community development officials from the Brookings Institution and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, LISC, to develop place-based strategies that bridge systemic gaps in health, wealth and opportunity.
The bold, long-term plans will equip each community with the tools needed to better compete for community and economic investment, particularly through the state’s nationally recognized READI program, which received another $500 million allocation from state leadership this spring.
“It is clear from both data and experience that equity-focused community investment plans can produce sustainable gains that have a positive ripple effect beyond any one project or neighborhood,” said William Taft, senior vice president of economic development with LISC. “For these three cities, these goals are achievable. They have committed local champions behind them, and they offer great opportunities for investors to empower real community-driven transformation.”
Michigan City, Seymour and Warsaw each tailored its strategy to its local assets, needs and opportunities. Their plans, which are highlighted below, share many common goals, such as expanding career pathways to high-quality jobs, building and preserving affordable housing, and transforming distressed or underutilized land into vibrant commercial facilities and public space for arts and recreation. The plans are based on the principles of community-centered economic inclusion, CCEI, which builds community wealth within underinvested places by directly engaging with residents; breaking down barriers related to race, income and geography; and connecting to broader economic growth in the region.
Warsaw’s strategic plan is designed to grow strategic sectors and address economic stagnation and inequity by coordinating and concentrating workforce, small business, real estate development and placemaking efforts. The community outlines specific initiatives to advance its built environment, economic development, civic life and social life, including projects and programs such as reviving downtown, inspiring entrepreneurship, advancing access to living wage manufacturing jobs, increasing public access to lakes and recreation assets and reinvigorating industrial heritage sites.
“Our community is thrilled to be part of this extraordinary opportunity. We are appreciative of the efforts of LISC and Brookings who guided us through convening businesses, residents and community leaders in the Critical Corridors that link Warsaw and Winona Lake,” said Suzie Light, leadership partner at the Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation. “Our robust Agenda will lead to lasting inclusive partnerships and transformative projects. We are thankful for all the members of our team that worked together and shared their talents and vision for Warsaw.”