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Benchmarking U.S. Regional Cities: A Study and Guide for Transformation and Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative

The Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP)/Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) and regional partners
Economic Strategy

The Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP) was formed in 1999 to bring together the chief executives of Central Indiana’s prominent corporations, foundations, and universities in a strategic and collaborative effort dedicated to the region’s continued prosperity and growth. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) is the State of Indiana's lead economic development agency.

Fourth Economy Consulting was first hired in 2014 to guide the development of the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative. IEDC realized that despite great efforts to make their state a great place to do business, employers were still struggling to find qualified employees and the tax base was eroding as the state was not retaining and attracting young talent.

Our Approach

Our team profiled the nation’s transformed regional cities, created a data framework of indicators defining Quality of Place, and provided guidance as the state launched a groundbreaking initiative. We examined eleven of the United States’ most transformed regional cities through site visits, interviews with current and past civic leaders, and data analysis, from which we developed case studies and a set of common themes that guided the development of the Indiana Regional Cities effort.

The Results

Our research resulted in a published report titled, "Benchmarking U.S. Regional Cities: A Study and Guide for Transformation" (2014). Based on our findings and strategic advice, IEDC created the Regional Cities Initiative to incentivize regional collaboration, cross-sector partnerships, bold planning, and quality of place investments by offering $126 million in matching funds to competing regions. In the end three regions were chosen to receive a state investment of $42M each to support a range of economic and quality of place investments. The Fourth Economy team supported the development of two of the regional plans.  According to a report by Ball State University in December 2017, just two years after the three winning regions created their plans the Initiative’s $126 million leveraged $1.2 billion in additional non-state investment, $802 million of which came from the private sector.


In 2021, Governor Holcomb, changed the name of the program to the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) and made $500 million (up to $50 M per region) in competitive funding available for regions to develop a data-informed regional development plan with the goal of accelerating population retention and attraction. READI builds on the framework and successes of the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative and the 21st Century Talent Initiative, encouraging neighboring communities across the state to work collaboratively to develop a bold vision for their future that, when implemented, will attract, develop and retain talent in Indiana. Fourth Economy supported three regions in the development of these plans and in 2022 they were awarded a combined $130M.  The commitment of $500M has led to private and local government commitments of $15B to support the defined community needs. This program is having a significant and lasting impact in Indiana.

Location

State of Indiana

Project Type

Economic Development Strategy

Client Type

Economic Development Organization

Scale

State

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