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Effort unveiled to market region

February 15, 2019 GMT

Business leaders hope a branding effort announced Thursday will lure people to live and work in northeast Indiana.

The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership unveiled “Make It Your Own,” a marketing and promotional effort designed to attract people ages 21 to 45 to the 11-county region that includes Allen County. The partnership, which is made up of business and civic leaders, worked with local and national marketing agencies to produce the tagline as part of a “long-term marketing strategy with a multi-year execution plan,” according to a news release.

“Northeast Indiana’s number one business need is increasing our talent pool,” Michael Galbraith, director of the partnership’s Road to One Million initiative, said in a statement. “On average, we have more than 6,000 unfilled jobs in the region on our jobs portal. For our region to thrive in today’s global economy, we must grow our population to one million people by 2030.”

The effort includes a website : MakeItYourOwnNEI.com : featuring videos about life in northeast Indiana and marketing materials area businesses can use to try to entice people to come here.

Officials spent six months working to craft a promotional message to appeal to prospective residents and people who already live here. The partnership conducted two surveys : a national perception survey of more than 1,200 people in Chicago, Dallas, Detroit and Toledo and Columbus, Ohio, and a regional perception survey.

The national survey found nearly 60 percent of those surveyed knew little about northeast Indiana. Fifty-five percent of respondents said they would move here for the right job.

More than 1,400 area residents were polled, and those who responded said “the cost of living, community-mindedness and easy-going lifestyles” were northeast Indiana strengths.

“We will leverage the Make It Your Own brand to increase national awareness of what northeast Indiana can offer individuals,” said Kate Virag, partnership vice president of marketing and strategic communications.

Citing development projects such as The Landing in Fort Wayne, an aquatics center in Columbia City and a regional trails system, Virag said the time is right to work to increase awareness of the region.

The partnership represents Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties.

“After more than a decade of building regional collaboration, northeast Indiana is now well-positioned to take this branding effort to the next level and propel our community forward into the national spotlight,” President and CEO John Sampson said.

Downtown Improvement District President Bill Brown has similar goals for Fort Wayne. Part of his job includes pitching downtown as a place to work, live and play.

Brown, who was not part of the branding effort, said marketing plans such as the partnership’s can help keep a spotlight on the area.

“I think it is important to continue the drumbeat,” he said. “It’s got to be unrelenting, frankly.”

mleblanc@jg.net