Celebrating the hard work, innovation, and collaboration that is moving the Indiana Uplands towards a more prosperous future.

It’s back! ROI’s Annual Report to the Region is returning after a COVID hiatus. Whether you are an employer, educator, community leader, economic development organization, workforce development professional, nonprofit, or just curious about the Uplands, put April 13 on your calendar. Register today as the region celebrates the hard work, innovation, and collaboration that is moving the Indiana Uplands, our Region on the Rise, toward a more prosperous future! For questions, please contact info@regionalopportunityinc.org.

Abbreviated Schedule

Thursday, April 13, French Lick Resort Conference Center

8:30 a.m– Registration and Check In
9:00 a.m.– ROI Annual Report to the Region
11:15 a.m.– Breakout Sessions
12:30 p.m.– Lunch, Keynote, & Regional Innovation Awards
2:15 p.m.– Breakout Sessions
3:15 p.m.– Cocktail & Mocktail Reception

Session Descriptions

8:30 – 9:00 a.m. Registration and Check In (Windsor Business Center)

Arrive early to interact with students from the Uplands Student-Run Business Network.

9:00 – 11:00 a.m. Innovation in the Uplands:  ROI’s Annual Report to the Region (Room: Windsor A & B)

Innovation abounds in the Indiana Uplands — in communities, schools, and workplaces! In this opening session, ROI will share stories of success, highlighting innovative strategies that are driving sector growth and outcomes in education, workforce, and quality of place across the region. A status update on the region’s participation in the State’s Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative will be shared along with a deeper dive into the possibilities that will be realized through a developing microelectronics cluster in the Uplands.

Presenters: ROI President and CEO Tina Peterson, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, Director of Engagement Jenna Dix, Uplands Science and Technology Foundation Interim CEO Joe Carley, and Reliable MicroSystems Chief Operations Officer Julia Buckley. Read more about these presenters.

11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Morning Breakout Sessions

School on Fire: Sustaining Innovation in Schools and Community (Room: Eisenhower)

Kentucky’s Eminence Independent School District has redesigned its instructional experience as a next-generation “Dream School” rooted in personalized learning and centered around innovation and creativity for kindergarten through 12th-grade students. Known for its Framework of Innovation for Reinventing Education model, Eminence uses online, blended, and competency-based education in its quest to be the “Disney World of Schools.” Eminence has utilized technology as the sustainable driver for their success combined with “Yes, And” thinking; “Surprise and Delight;” and a “Think Differently” approach to problem-solving.

Presenter: Superintendent Dr. Buddy Berry, Eminence Independent Schools. Read more about this presenter.

Who should attend: Educators, counselors, career coaches, CTE providers, community and workforce development professionals, and others.

Rethinking Talent: Partnerships Between Employers and K12 Schools (Room: Roosevelt)

In this session, participants will learn about the launch of ROI’s UpSkill Work and Learn program from a panel of UpSkill employers and students. The panel will provide insight into how employers have embraced modern youth apprenticeships as a unique talent recruitment and retention strategy and the benefits to students. Learn how employers are providing high-quality work-based learning and mentorship while participating students are developing lasting connections to regional employers, careers, and their communities.

Presenters: Erica Dooley-Dorocke, Smithville, Apryl Kidd, Collaboration of Shoals, Mitchell, and Orleans Schools, Jaimie Miller, Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corporation, Stacey Martin, SAIC, and high school students: Nate Bowles (Mitchell), Logan Anderson (Edgewood), and Sophie McDuffee (North Lawrence CC). Moderated by ROI’s Sector Specialist Kim Waldridge and Jen Staab, Career Connection Specialist. Read more about these presenters.

Who should attend: Employers, educators, counselors, community and workforce development professionals, and others.

How-to: Entrepreneurial Strategies to Improve Your Quality of Place (Room: Nixon)

This breakout session is designed to stimulate a discussion about leveraging entrepreneurial strategies to bring quality-of-life businesses to your downtown. The discussion will include entrepreneurship programs, best practices, and real-world examples in the Indiana Uplands region. Steve Bryant from Ivy Tech’s Gayle & Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship will moderate the panel with leaders from two communities implementing innovative programs that are building Main Street action plans designed to bring foot traffic into their communities. The session will also include discussions about mapping entrepreneurial resources and a high-level overview of how to create an action plan for your community.

Presenters: Kate Schwenk, Heart of Jasper, Nancy Eckerle, Jasper Chamber of Commerce, Marce King, Owen County Chamber of Commerce, and Blaine Parker, Radius Indiana. Moderated by Steve Bryant, Ivy Tech’s Gayle & Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship. Read more about these presenters.

Who should attend: Economic development professionals, employers, community development representatives, government representatives, nonprofits, and others

Diversity in the Uplands: Promising, Inclusive Strategies to Support the Region’s Growing Hispanic Population (Room: Truman)

Employers, schools, and communities are creating inclusive strategies for Hispanic and Latino individuals and families in the Indiana Uplands. From Spanish-speaking workplace shifts to Spanish immersion school programs, and collaborative round tables, communities are seeking intentional ways to honor and embrace the unique benefits that diversity is bringing to the region.

Presenters: Xavier Reyes Lopez, Boston Scientific, Steve Peterson, Washington Community Schools, and Evelyn Rivas, Ivy Tech Community College and ALASI. Moderated by Tina Peterson, Regional Opportunity Initiatives. Read more about these presenters.

Who should attend: Employers, community leaders, educators, nonprofits, community development professionals, and others

Indiana’s Education Value Movement: Step Into Your Future (Room: Kennedy)

In 2021, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education began undertaking in-depth qualitative and quantitative research, including focus groups and surveys to understand why Hoosiers are – or increasingly aren’t – pursuing education and training beyond high school. Using the unique findings, the Commission has created a new language and messaging framework to better deliver positive messages around the value of higher education for people and for the state overall. The goal of this “Education Value Movement” is to help stem the college-going decline and encourage more Hoosier students and adult learners to pursue some form of education or training beyond high school. This session will explore college-going trends in the Indiana Uplands as well as detail findings from the Commission’s research.

Presenters: Allison Kuehr, Commission for Higher Education Communications Director, and Sean Tierney, Commission for Higher Education Associate Commissioner for Business Intelligence & Chief Economist. Read more about these presenters.

Who should attend: K-12 educators and counselors, postsecondary educators and administrators, community organizations, employers, and government leaders

12:30 – 2:00 p.m. Lunch: Keynote Address, and Indiana Uplands Regional Innovation Awards (Room: Windsor A & B)

ROI proudly welcomes David Rosenberg, Executive Vice President of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, as our 2023 Keynote Speaker. Mr. Rosenberg will talk about economic development trends that will affect the future of the State of Indiana and the potential that READI 2.0 may have for regional advancement and prosperity. Read more about David.

ROI will also present the 2023 Indiana Uplands Regional Innovation Awards to honor education, economic development, and quality of place accomplishments in the Indiana Uplands.

2:15 – 3:15 p.m. Afternoon Breakout Sessions

Housing: A Changing Market (Room: Nixon)

In this session, we will dig into housing opportunities and challenges in the Indiana Uplands. The Indiana Uplands Regional Housing Study published in 2019 provided a road map to identify and meet housing priorities. Since the publication, the housing market in the region has changed substantially. The Indiana Association of REALTORS will present a housing market overview, and RDG Planning and Design will unveil fresh data to be included in the Housing Study Update.

Presenters: Mark Fisher, Indiana Association of REALTORS, Amy Haase, RDG Planning and Design. Moderated by Ron Walker, CFC Properties and Workforce Housing LLC. Read more about these presenters.

Who should attend: Housing developers and investors, employers, community development representatives, government representatives, nonprofits, economic development professionals, and others

Navigating the Workforce Landscape: An Introduction to the Indiana Chamber’s New Talent Resource Navigator (Room: Eisenhower)

In this session, the Institute for Workforce Excellence will show how its new navigation tool documents the breadth of resources for talent development, attraction, and retention across Indiana. This tool is designed to connect individuals and organizations to the providers and resources that can help in the talent space. You will also learn about future enhancements to the Talent Resource Navigator platform, including promising practices, self-directed assessments, and wrap-around services.

Presenter: Dr. Todd Hurst, Institute for Workforce Excellence. Read more about this presenter.

Who should attend: employers, workforce development professionals, career coaches, and community partners

Early Learning: Increasing Access to Quality Childcare (Room: Truman)

Jennifer Myers of Monroe Smart Start, an early learning initiative, will share strategies and tools for building an early learning coalition in your community. A panel of coalition leaders from Uplands communities will highlight innovative efforts to increase access, quality, and engagement in local communities. Information on upcoming opportunities to expand access to care will be shared, as well as information on employer efforts to help offset childcare costs.

Presenters: Jennifer Myers, Monroe Smart Start, Amanda Lopez, Transform Consulting Group, Brandy Terrell, Thrive Orange County & Southern Indiana Community Health Care, Debbie Beeler, Hoosier Uplands, Dr. Jerry Sanders, Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corporation, and Ed Cole, Dubois Strong. Read more about these presenters.

Who should attend: Educators, parents, community leaders, employers, government officials, healthcare providers, and others

Talent Attraction: Creating A Veteran Friendly Community and Workplace (Room: Johnson)

Meeting the need for skilled workforce and engaged community members requires leaders to think beyond the state’s borders. Learn the why and how of talent attraction strategies for transitioning military to successfully strengthen your workforce and community.

Presenters: Blaine Zimmerman, INvets CEO. Read more about this presenter.

Who should attend: Employers, workforce development professionals, community partners, and others

ROI’s Grant Writing Fellowship (closed session) (Room: Kennedy)

Christmas Hudgens from the Indiana Office of Community & Rural Affairs will spend this session with Cohorts 1 and 2 of the ROI Grant Writing Fellowship. Hudgens will discuss grant management tools and techniques to help Fellows and the organizations they represent efficiently fulfill grant requirements.

Presenter: Christmas Hudgens, OCRA

Who should attend: ROI Grant Writing Fellowship Cohorts 1 and 2

ROI’s STEM and Career Coaching Fellowships (closed session) (Room: Roosevelt)

Special guest Dr. Buddy Berry will engage with Cohort 6 of the ROI STEM Fellowship and Cohorts 1 and 2 of the ROI Career Coaching Fellowship. Dr. Berry’s message will provide promising practices and inspiration as they continue their work as ambassadors for STEM education and career awareness across the Uplands Region. This will be the final meeting and celebration for this year’s fellowship programs.

Presenter: Superintendent Dr. Buddy Berry, Eminence Independent Schools

Who should attend: ROI STEM Fellowship Cohort 6 and Career Coaching Fellowship Cohorts 1 and 2

3:15 – 4:30 p.m. Reception: Cocktails and Mocktails (Hoosier Hallway)