December 20, 2012

OUR VIEW: Regional approach seems promising

Cass County commissioners should be applauded for their pledge to join with five surrounding counties in an effort to secure state and federal funding.

Commissioners this week approved a resolution that would put the county in an economic development group aimed at attracting grants to a six-county region.

The region is made up of Cass, Fulton, Miami, Howard, Tipton and Clinton counties, and Connie Neininger, the new president of the Logansport-Cass County Economic Development Foundation, says she and her colleagues in the other counties had worked together to create a document outlining the counties’ needs.

By coming together, Neininger said, the counties should be eligible for federal and state grants that they might not otherwise have received.

Dave Arnold, president of the board of commissioners, said he had been attending meetings about the comprehensive economic development strategy for about a year. Participating counties will contribute to the effort based on population, he said, and Cass County’s share will be about $20,000 or roughly 77 cents a person.

The grants sought will mainly be for municipalities and government entities, Neininger said. Many relate to infrastructure with recipients ranging from fire departments to community buildings and trails.

At this point in the process, Neininger said, each county will have to have local government approval to join the group. Then, participating counties will determine who will form the board, how the organization will be funded and who will be hired as director. Neininger said organizers hope to make those decisions in the first quarter of 2013.  

Neininger is known for such cross-county efforts. She was involved in such an organization in her previous post in White County.

The idea behind such an effort is to identify regional strengths and weaknesses and look for ways to tackle issues across county lines. In the end, what benefits one participating county benefits all of them, and working together increases every county’s odds of obtaining grants.

This is not a new idea. Counties in many parts of the state have been involved in such efforts for years.

Such a regional approach to confronting challenges makes sense. By taking a broader look at the issues facing the region, officials can have a greater impact. And their efforts will make a bigger difference in the lives of people in each of the participating counties.

We congratulate the commissioners on their decision, and we look forward to the results.

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