Regional Opportunity Initiatives Newsletter, May 2017

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Advancing economic and community prosperity in an 11-county region that encompasses Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen and Washington counties.

ROI Introduces New Initiatives at Annual Report to the Region

ROI introduced a series of education, workforce and quality of life initiatives at its first Annual Report to the Region held on April 26 in French Lick, IN.

“The initiatives we have launched to date and others launching later this year address significant economic, workforce and community needs we face in our region today, while also preparing future generations to meet the needs of tomorrow,” said Interim CEO Tina Peterson. “Backed by data and an incredibly collaborative approach among partners in our region, we think this series of initiatives is just a first step towards greater alignment among our schools, our sector employers, and our communities.”

ROIs initiatives announced at the annual meeting include a Ready Schools Initiative, STEM Fellows, Out-of-School STEM Learning Grants, a cybersecurity challenge, an Educator Boot Camp with local employers, the Skill UP! Work and Learn Internship program for technology students, a Speakers Bureau, a competitive positioning and branding effort, and quality of place grantmaking. In addition, regional convenings will take place this summer around career pathways and adult education. Ongoing initiatives include the I69 interchange analysis and Graduation and Career Coaching in 11 Southwest Central Indiana high schools. Read more.

Graduation and Career Coaches Open Possibilities for SWCI High School Students

A partnership with Ivy Tech Community College, the ROI graduation and career coaching pilot initiative began at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year in 11 high schools in Southwest Central Indiana. Coaches work closely with at-risk students to create individualized high school completion plans, ensure students attend school and fulfill academic requirements, and introduce them to pathways into technical certifications, associate degrees, and other postsecondary degree programs.

As the academic year comes to a close, we’d like to share with you the incredible work these the coaches are doing and the tremendous difference they are making to hundreds of students in Southwestern Central Indiana. View video.

Sectors Teams to Convene around Regional Education and Workforce Alignment

On April 26th, ROI convened our three targeted industry sectors of Life Sciences, National Security & Defense, and Advanced Manufacturing. A subset of leaders from each sector, representing 27 regional businesses, gathered to discuss the Occupational Needs Assessment and explore common workforce development goals. The sector leaders have developed a regional mission statement to work toward:

In partnership with ROI, our sector partners will work collaboratively and proactively to attract and grow a regional workforce qualified and ready to meet the occupational needs of SWCI’s key sectors.

The industry sector teams were formed to help ensure that the education and workforce initiatives ROI is developing are industry-driven. As a facilitator for these sector strategies, ROI will bring leaders together to support the overall mission by creating and aligning partnerships between employers and sectors. While each sector may use different strategies, they all are working in concert with ROI toward a goal of a ready, sustainable workforce. As this work gains momentum, sectors will work collaboratively with educational partners across the regions to create articulation and alignment.

Regional Council Formed to Assist in Development of Regional Strategies

To assist in the development of regional strategies and to further respond to opportunities across the region, ROI convened a new Regional Council with representatives from each of Southwest Central Indiana’s 11 counties. Regional Council members are liaisons between their home counties and broader regional initiatives. They will facilitate communication with key stakeholders and community leaders, advise on regional strategies, provide local perspective, and convene communities to take advantage of regional initiatives and opportunities. Thank you to all of our Regional Council members for your commitment to advancing economic and community prosperity in Southwest Central Indiana.

I69 Interchange Analysis Update

On April 20th, more than 35 individuals representing communities, local commissions and councils, economic development organizations, and industry gathered to discuss the potential that I69 interchange development might offer our region. HWC Engineering led the group through a strategic analysis of our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges. At Westgate Academy on June 29th, Chris Hamm and his HWC team will share the findings of their analyses informed both by the stakeholder meeting and their in-depth review of the interchanges in Daviess, Greene and Monroe counties. This presentation will include a panel discussion with developers who will offer their insights on how this region might be best take advantage of the opportunity to create a system of interchanges that will improve our capacity to achieve our economic and community prosperity goals in Southwest Central Indiana. This event is open to any interested individual in SWCI. Please confirm your attendance by emailing April Wason at

IU Provost Previews Center for Rural Excellence at 2017 State of Campus Address

In March, IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel previewed the Center for Rural Excellence at her IU 2017 State of the Campus address. The Center will utilize IU resources and expertise on improving the lives of residents in rural and small-town communities in southern Indiana. The Center for Rural Excellence, she said, will be in the vanguard of approaches to address issues facing small-town and rural areas with its efforts focused on the 11 counties of Southwest Central Indiana.

“The challenges facing our region are characteristic of much of rural and small-town America: poverty, lack of economic opportunity, and poor educational and health outcomes, including the scourge of addiction,” Robel said. “The goal of the center is to improve materially the lives of the people living in these counties, and to demonstrate how a research university’s broad resources can, within the constraints of its core mission, be marshaled to improve the well-being of an entire region.”

The proposed center, aided by a planning grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., will focus on themes of sustainable communities, health and wellness, entrepreneurship and economic development, educational attainment, capacity building and leadership, culture and the built environment. Read more.

Upcoming Events in Southwest Central Indiana

Below is a summary of upcoming ROI events and those from our industry partners and organizations in Southwest Central Indiana. 

June 5: Indiana Summit for Economic Development via Early Learning Coalitions
Monroe Convention Center. This annual event brings together business, education, civic, and other community leaders from around the state to understand the business case for investment in early childhood and ways to develop and sustain early learning coalitions. Presented by Early Learning Indiana, the Indiana Early Learning Advisory Committee, Muncie BY5, and Monroe Smart Start, a leadership initiative of the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County. Register now.

June 13: Southern Indiana Sectors Convening
WestGate Academy. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development and Jobs For the Future will be hosting a Regional Sector Convening at Westgate Academy on Tuesday, June 13th from 8:00 to 2:15. This convening will share best practices on effective sector partnership development and provide an opportunity to learn about Indiana’s statewide sector strategies.

June 26: 2017 Pathways Summit: Sector-Based Career Pathways
Indianapolis Ivy Tech Culinary and Conference Center. Join the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning at the 2017 Pathways Summit, presented by Indiana Manufacturers Association, Indiana Construction Roundtable, Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Indiana Department of Education, Indiana Commission of Higher Education, Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, and Vincennes University.

June 29: I69 Interchange Analyses
WestGate Academy. HWC Engineering will share findings of their I69 interchange analyses informed both by the stakeholder meeting and their in-depth review of the interchanges in Daviess, Greene and Monroe counties. This event is open to any interested individual in SWCI. Please confirm your attendance by emailing April Wason at

Do you have a regionally relevant event to share? Contact Betsy Trotzke, ROI Communications and Marketing Director at

Southwest Central Indiana

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

Follow us on social media for more up-to-date happenings in Southwest Central Indiana.

Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc., is sharing this informational update with you  to illustrate the activities currently underway to ensure long-term prosperity and quality of life in Southwest Central Indiana. We hope you find this information helpful and encourage you to share it with colleagues. If you have any questions or comments, please contact us.

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