Regional Opportunity Initiatives Newsletter, June 2016

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Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc. (ROI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established to advance economic and community prosperity in Southwest Central Indiana (SWCI). Through an initial grant by Lilly Endowment Inc., ROI is implementing an education and workforce plan and a regional opportunity fund for quality-of-place investments.

From the CEO

As I sat down to compose this letter for the first edition of the ROI Newsletter, I found myself struggling to know where to begin. I drafted many first sentences only to delete one after another. It was not that I didn’t know what to say, but rather that there is so much that needs to be said.

A few brief paragraphs seem inadequate to thank the hundreds and hundreds of individuals and organizations who contributed to the development of the Southwest Central Indiana Plan for Economic and Community Prosperity, to acknowledge the significance of the investment the Lilly Endowment has made in our newly formed region, and to share the plans taking shape around implementation of key strategies.

In the end, I decided that the most important message I can convey today is one of possibility. We have been given an exceptionally unique opportunity to build upon all that is compelling about Southwest Central Indiana and to work together as a group of interdependent communities to build a future that would otherwise not be possible.

In March, many of us gathered at Westgate Academy to celebrate all that is made possible with this first investment in our region, and to launch strategies for advancing SWCI through focused collaborations around education and workforce, quality of life, and applied research. In the months following that event, work has been ongoing to build the infrastructure necessary to move forward with our regional collaboration.

This kind of behind-the-scenes work is not very newsworthy in and of itself, but you will begin to see the benefits of our collaborations in the coming months as initiatives are rolled out each and every one informed by the feedback provided by those who live, work and invest in our region.

Let me close by thanking you in advance for embracing all that is possible in SWCI and for your willingness to work with Regional Opportunity Initiatives and its partners to make these possibilities a reality. We look forward to working with you and beside you as we advance our region — this place we call home.

Tina Peterson
Interim CEO
Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc.
(812) 333-9016


ROI Launches Regional Graduation and Career Coaching Initiative

ROI has announced its first education initiative to support economic and community prosperity in the Southwest Central Indiana region. ROI, in partnership with Ivy Tech Community College – Bloomington, is launching a pilot graduation and career coaching program in six public school districts. This is the first in a series of significant education and workforce initiatives that will be implemented in our region in the coming months and years.

Beginning with the 2016-17 academic year, five new graduation and career coaches will work with high school and middle school students in Bloomfield School District, Crawford County Community Schools, Loogootee Community Schools, Salem Community Schools, Spencer-Owen Community Schools and Washington Community Schools. These coaches complement two existing coaches in Monroe County Community School Corporation and Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corporation that are partially funded by the Franklin Initiative.

Working closely with school administrators and counseling teams, coaches will support targeted groups of students most at-risk for not attaining high school diplomas.

“There are exceptional opportunities in our region for young people to excel in the workforce,” said ROI Interim CEO Tina Peterson. “Our regional employers are hungry for qualified job applicants who possess the work ethic and skill set required for quality jobs in life sciences, defense, advanced manufacturing and more. Read more.

Photos from SWCI Regional Announcement Event

State and regional leaders, stakeholders and local officials gathered at Westgate Academy on March 4, 2016 to learn details about the regional development initiatives designed to promote economic and community prosperity in Southwest Central Indiana. Read more.

Occupational Needs Assessment Under Way

This summer ROI will begin work on an occupational needs assessment, a keystone to our education and workforce strategy. While there is no shortage of research studies regarding the state of the workforce across the state, we believe our approach is unique and pertinent to Southwest Central Indiana. Partnering with Thomas P. Miller and Associates, ROI has developed an analysis that will look at real-time data regarding regional employment and demographic trends and job postings, and will also conduct in-depth interviews with a sample of employers across all key industry sectors.

ROI’s sector team is currently setting up interviews with industry representatives and data collection will be completed this summer. We expect a public report at a regional event later this summer. Look for more information soon!

ROI Hires Staff Members

ROI is hiring its Education and Workforce team! Get to know Todd Hurst, Angel Reece and Laura Englander.

Todd Hurst
Director of Education and Workforce

Todd Hurst serves as the Director of Education and Workforce for ROI. Most recently Todd was the director of education and workforce at the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) at the University of Indianapolis. Todd has experience as a former teacher, director of college advising, school development coordinator, and as a director of a regional and statewide education and workforce initiative. Todd has a master’s in curriculum and instruction and is currently finishing his doctorate in educational leadership with a focus on politics and technology.

Angel Reece
National Security and Defense Specialist

Angel Reece is ROI’s National Security and Defense Sector Specialist. She has over 10 years experience serving in the defense sector focusing on workforce and organizational development. Most recently Angel was an Organizational Consultant for Stimulus Engineering, where she primarily focused on the defense sector providing ongoing expertise on leadership and organizational development initiatives. Angel has a master’s in business communication, and is finishing her doctorate in organizational leadership with a focus on innovation. Angel is the primary contact to Southwest Central Indiana’s defense sector industries for ROI and is working with the industry leaders to develop an occupational needs assessment for sector strategies, including the development of an industry council and workforce initiatives.

Laura Englander
Life Sciences Sector Specialist

Laura Englander is ROI’s Life Sciences Sector Specialist. She has been active in the life sciences industry for over eight years as a sales representative, global product manager and consultant for COOK Medical and other companies while she lived in the Washington, D.C. area. Laura graduated from the University of Minnesota and has had life-long ties to Indiana as a former member of the Star of Indiana Drum and Bugle Corps. She will work with the life science sector leaders to gather their insight for an occupational needs assessment that will begin to carve the way toward developing an industry council to assist in workforce and education development in the Southwest Central Indiana region.

Are you passionate about growing our region? ROI is hiring!Apply Now: Education Specialist,Advanced Manufacturing Sector Specialist. Apply Monday:Graduation / Career Coach (posting live on June 13).



SouthWest Central Indiana Regional Development

11 counties, 4,500 square miles, the 3rd largest Navy base in the world, life sciences, advanced manufacturing and more.

Southwest Central Indiana.


ROI Board of Directors

Brian Blackwell, NSWC Crane
Mark Bradford, Old National Bank
Tim Craddock, NSA
Duane Embree, Indiana Office of Defense Development & Ivy Tech Community College
Doug Kellams, Tri-County Builders
Paul Mitchell, Energy Systems Network
Tom Morrison, Indiana University
Dan Peterson, Cook Group
Tina Peterson, ROICommunity Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County
Becky Skillman, Radius Indiana
William Stephan, Indiana University
Jennie Vaughan, Ivy Tech Bloomington
Matt Weinzapfel, Jasper Engines

Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc., is sharing this informational update with you – as one of our stakeholders – to illustrate the activities currently underway to connect education and industry to create a native workforce that is prepared for the demands of employers in our region. We hope you find this information helpful and encourage you to share it with colleagues throughout Southwest Central Indiana. If you have any questions or comments, please contact us.

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