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June 11, 2015

The ADVANCE Regional Summit Brings Hundreds to Muncie

Muncie, IN – The Regional Summit for the ADVANCE east central Indiana planning effort was hosted Tuesday, June 9th. Nearly 250 people packed the Horizon Convention Center, in downtown Muncie, and were encouraged to share their vision for the future of the six-county region. The crowd included representation from Blackford, Delaware, Henry, Jay, Madison, and Randolph counties.

The program began with the sharing of the State of the Region. This report focused on the key socio-economic and place-based trends, and how these trends were affecting the region’s potential. The presentation outlined a number of key assets for which the community should be proud. It also revealed several negative trends, suggesting the Regional Development Plan is fundamental. Trends related to population loss, low median income, and diminishing home values make a strong case for collective action.

Following the report, participants were asked to think about their aspirations for the region. Through a series of activities, several key themes emerged. These centered on encouraging entrepreneurialism, improving social mobility, and capitalizing on alternative energy potential. Hundreds of unique ideas were generated. These will be used to help inform and direct the next phases of the planning process.

The “Write the headline” activity asked participants to think about the effect of a successful ADVANCE process 20 years into the future. One headline boldly stated, “Rust belt becomes gold belt as young people stay for hi-tech jobs in health and science fields.”

During the meeting, the planning team for the ADVANCE process presented the framework for the Regional Development Plans as outlined by the state. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation is overseeing the process. They have recently detailed the criteria for projects eligible for funding. The team presented the state’s categories and asked participants to consider their priorities. Improving the quality of place, and addressing the basic infrastructure were identified as the top categories.

A panel discussion of leadership from around the region shared their reactions and opportunities for the future of the region. The group emphasized collaboration as a fundamental component of the region’s future success.

A summary of the night’s events and an analysis of the input will be posted the process website. The discussion will be critical component of the final Regional Development Plan.  Participants shared a high-level of satisfaction and enthusiasm for the meeting. One participant shared, “Thank you for making this happen – our region is going somewhere great!”

The regional community will be asked to reconvene in mid to late July to further refine the final plan. The meeting date and location will be posted through the process website and publicized through the media.

More information on the project and the Regional Summit is available on the project’s website,

The program’s research and facilitation efforts are being led by Ninigret Partners of Providence, Rhode Island and planningNEXT of Columbus, Ohio.

For more information please contact Kyle May, Project Consultant, with planning NEXT,