East Central Indiana Aims to Boost Attraction and Retention

MUNCIE – The East Central Indiana Regional Partnership is launching a marketing campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of living and working in the region. Elevate ECI includes representatives from each of the area’s 10 counties and is developing a multimedia marketing and outreach effort to encourage the return of residents who have left, retain current residents and inspire visitors of the region to make it their home. The initiative’s marketing strategy will roll out next year.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, ECIRP President Mindy Kenworthy says attracting people to the region and retaining people who already live there is a major factor in bridging the workforce gap and boosting business needs.

Although efforts to recruit businesses have been a focus in the past, Kenworthy says the shift toward attraction and retention starts with people.

“We’re looking at historic low unemployment rates, the workforce is extremely tight right now. The organization has primarily in the past always focused just on business recruitment: marketing the region from a business standpoint and trying to attract new businesses here. But, quite honestly, with existing companies struggling so much to find workforce, we decided we also needed to include some marketing efforts to attract more people and keep the people that we have. If you look at population trends for east central Indiana, they’re declining and so we just felt that it was time to do something in order to address this.”

Elevate ECI has taken a local, community-driven approach and is currently working with Hagerstown-based Irongate Creative, Muncie-based Circle Three Branding and Stratavize Consulting in Cambridge City to develop and implement the campaign.

While Circle Three Branding specializes in marketing for the waste and recycling industries and only accepts a select number of projects outside of that realm, a spokesperson from the company said taking on the project was an “easy choice because it’s where we live and there’s an urgent need to help this community look towards the future and begin to thrive.”

The marketing committee will also aim to showcase the positives and quality of life available in east central Indiana.

While short commute times, affordable housing, access to quality healthcare and less traffic all make the region attractive, Kenworthy says a major pull for younger adults and millennials is the potential and opportunity the region offers them to be actively involved and make an impact.

“There’s just a lot of potential in our communities. I’ll admit we’ve struggled in the region because of the loss of a lot of manufacturing jobs over the last couple of decades. So, a lot of our small downtowns need a lot of work. And a lot of young people kind of get excited about the potential of coming into a community and being able to make a difference, and then actually seeing the results of being involved. So, I think that’s another thing that’s attractive about our region being a more rural smalltown community is there’s a lot of possibilities l for young people to come in and thrive and really make a difference.”

Elevate ECI aims to kick off the initiative in 2020.

Read the full article and listen to the interview here