Strategic Vision for Southwest Central Indiana Released

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FRENCH LICK, IN – After more than a year of research, planning, and community engagement, stakeholders in southwest central Indiana announced today the completion of a regional economic development strategy aimed at fostering new growth and capitalizing on existing assets in the region, including but not limited to, Indiana University and Naval Support Activity (NSA) Crane. The strategy, funded by a planning grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc., was presented today to regional leaders representing business, education and government at an event in French Lick, Ind.

Since the $650,000 grant was awarded in July 2013, hundreds of meetings, interviews and focus groups have taken place at the direction of the planning initiative’s steering committee, consisting of eight invested stakeholders and leaders from the region. The committee focused on an 11-county area, which includes Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen, and Washington counties.
The steering committee worked with the project coordinator Energy Systems Network (ESN) and research consultants with Battelle Technology Partnership Practice. Together they conducted a regional assessment of current and emerging sectors and organized a number of community and stakeholder meetings. In addition, committee members traveled to three “benchmark” regions – Huntsville, Ala.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Charleston, S.C. – meeting with local business and government leaders to gather additional information. Like the southwest central Indiana region, these benchmark locations benefit from being home to a major research university in close proximity to a federal laboratory.

“The benchmarking visits were a critical part of our strategic planning process,” said Dan Peterson, vice president of industry and governmental affairs at Cook Group and chairman of the steering committee.  “Each was selected as a result of its demonstrated success in coordinated economic, workforce and technology transfer activities. Their processes served as a launch pad for recognizing best practices and an overall sense of the type of strong community commitment required for regional advancement.”

Listening sessions were also coordinated in all 11 counties by the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County and Radius Indiana – a regional economic development partnership representing eight counties in South Central Indiana – with support from other local community foundations.

“This region is ripe with opportunity, and we sought to hear from as many community members as possible,” said Becky Skillman, President and CEO of Radius Indiana and a member of the steering committee. “Radius Indiana is keen on enlisting collaborative, regional support to bring success and growth to southern Indiana, and this strategic plan gives us a significant step forward in optimizing that effort.”

The plan consists of six interconnected strategies focused on regionalism, workforce development and education, economic development, infrastructure, entrepreneurship, and R&D technology transfer. The assessment of current and emerging sectors within the region helped identify those areas in which high growth could be achieved.

Lilly Endowment’s grant was awarded to the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership Foundation, which supports the charitable and educational activities of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP), and is managed by ESN.

“This plan provides a strategy and roadmap for transformational development that can position the region to compete on a global scale,” said Paul Mitchell, President and CEO of ESN. “Now regional leaders will begin the hard work of realizing this vision and delivering results.”

A full copy of the strategic plan can be found on the following websites: Energy Systems Radius Indiana: Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County:

ABOUT ENERGY SYSTEMS NETWORK Energy Systems Network (ESN) is a not for profit, industry-driven economic initiative focused on bringing alternative energy technology solutions to market, using innovation to confront global energy challenges with systems-level solutions. ESN provides services to its members and industry through collaborative commercialization projects, consulting services, and strategic planning, research and workshops. In 2012, this initiative of Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP) broke ground on the Battery Innovation Center (BIC) in the Southwest Central Indiana region. The BIC is a customer-driven single point of access for battery research, development, testing and commercialization. The $20 million facility is located at Westgate Technology Park in Crane, Ind. and opened operations in August 2013, providing significant economic growth to the area. For more information, visit

ABOUT THE STEERING COMMITTEE The steering committee for this strategic planning effort consists of regional leaders and stakeholders invested in the Southwest Central Indiana region:

  • Brian Blackwell, Director, Office of Engagement, Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane
  • CMDR Timothy Craddock, Commanding Officer at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Crane
  • Duane Embree, National Director of Military and Defense Initiatives, Ivy Tech Community College
  • Paul Mitchell, President and CEO, Energy Systems Network (ESN)
  • Dan Peterson, Vice President of Industry and Government Affairs, Cook Group; Steering Committee Chairman
  • Tina Peterson, President and CEO, Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County
  • Becky Skillman, President and CEO, Radius Indiana
    William Stephan, Vice President for Engagement, Indiana University

ABOUT LILLY ENDOWMENT INC. Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family — J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli — through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company.  While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location.  In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.  More information can be found at

Read the complete Strategic Plan


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