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March 31, 2014

New economic planning group formed

Six counties band together to seek project funding, boost local economies

After three years of planning, a new regional economic development group made up of six north central Indiana counties is set to begin operating this year.

Howard, Miami, Tipton, Cass, Fulton and Clinton counties have formed the North Central Indiana Regional Planning Council with the aim of “building stronger local and regional economies and enhancing the quality of life throughout the region,” according to its strategic plan.

Jim Tidd, executive director of the Miami County Economic Development Authority, said the group elected regional-planning officers Friday, and each county has identified five people to serve on its board of directors.

The group has also adopted an official set of bylaws.

“It’s up and running,” he said. “We’re moving forward.”

Tidd said the two major goals of the organization are to promote regional collaboration with the partnering counties, and work to secure funding for individual county projects that benefit the region.

The group will operate with an initial budget of $175,000. Tidd said each county will pay a portion of the cost based on its population.

“The only fair and equitable way to do it is by population,” he said.

Organization officials are currently finalizing a job description for the executive director position.

Tidd said he hopes the group will be fully staffed with a permanent location secured by the end of the summer.

In 2012, the six partner counties drafted an 85-page comprehensive economic development strategy that laid out a blueprint for the organization.

According to the document, the four strategic priorities for the group are to prepare and develop the workforce while intentionally attracting and retaining talent; improving and developing downtown space; maximizing the potential of air and highway transportation infrastructure; and ensuring quality infrastructure to meet the needs of residents and businesses throughout the region.

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